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Just What Are We Defending?

Asking exactly what it is we are defending is an alarmingly more substantive and less rhetorical question with every passing week. Take, for instance, California, where a ballot measure won a majority vote, yet members of the state's legislature are drafting a petition to the state supreme court in an effort to overturn the measure - effectively usurping the democratic process. And process - not the measure - is exactly what is in greater peril here.

Be afraid, because California is Circumventing Democracy.

"The citizens of California rely on the Legislature and the courts to safeguard against unlawful discrimination by temporary, and often short-lived, majorities," the legislators said in the document, written by attorneys at the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

The measure won with 52.3% of the popular vote, nearly the same percentage of votes won by Barack Obama in the presidential election.

Two questions:

1. Should Congressional Republicans hire Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to write a petition to the Supreme Court to "safeguard" against "temporary, and often short-lived, majorities" and usurp the presidential election?

2. Are legislators - who write California's laws - incapable of writing their own petition?

This is patently absurd and should amount to a Constitutional crisis in California if successful.

Check that. It would be absurd if usurping the vote through the courts was patently implausible. Instead, it is nothing short of alarming.

It's affects will reach beyond California. You know how the US Supreme Court loves precedent, even European precedent, when "interpreting" the US Constitution.

Americans should care not a wit what the vote was about - gay marriage or the election of a local dog catcher. Democracy is being circumvented.

I am absolutely stunned that this effort to usurp the majority of California voters is getting yawns thus far in reaction.

Think about this for a clear-minded minute. California legislators and their hired attorneys are making a false claim that "[t]he citizens of California rely on the Legislature and the courts to safeguard against unlawful discrimination by temporary, and often short-lived, majorities."

Majorities need to be protected against?

Think.

Long and hard.

Is this, on Veterans' Day, what we veterans fought and sacrificed for? For the courts and elected legislators to protect us from "majorities" which they selectively deem to be "temporary, and often short-lived"?

Never in my years have I felt this country's foundation under such blatant assault in so many ways.

I shudder. Most others seem to yawn. Which, in turn, makes my shudders even more pronounced.

4 Comments

Steve,

I certainly share your alarm. Moreover, that so many Americans seem undisturbed, irrespective of one's personal opinion on the matter, is equally disconcerting.

"Majorities need to be protected against?"

Obviously, yes. That's one of the major points of the Constitution. Inherent rights are not up for vote. James Madison, Federalist 10:

"A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

We are defending the Constitution, not mob rule.

Adrian, that's an excellent point to make, the best and most cogent thus far. Thanks.

I still believe it not wholly applicable in this case - insofar as this particular instance's chances at success.

In this instance, to follow the chain, at question is whether marriage - a religious institution recognized by the state and not the other way around - is a Constitutional right. Meaning, the rights stated by the Constitution (presuming in CA's specific state case) are preserved for gays and lesbians in the state's civil union laws. So left is simply the State's definition of marriage, again a religious institution recognized - as are civil unions - by the State.

In this case, referring to the majority as mob rule depriving rights of others is in my view off the mark. And therefor, again in my view, the recourse taken by state legislators is equally off the mark.

If gays in civil unions had no hospital visitation rights, similar taxation application, etc, etc, then I would say otherwise and say rights must be protected. But they are not being violated.

Thoughts?

...All that said, I expect the CA Supreme Court to strike down the measure as soon as the request hits the bench.

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