I have an upcoming essay about the way in which the value of our votes has been diminished over time. One of the reasons our votes are worth less nowadays is the negation of our votes by liberal federal judges, who issue rulings striking down our laws — sometimes after a trial where the people supposedly charged with defending the law actually disagree with the law.
I can’t let pass without comment a perfect illustration of this principle of negation of our votes, as it is so well illustrated by a pair of L.A. Times articles today.
In the first, you can listen to the palpable frustration of voters who thought their vote had actually meant something, but are now finding out otherwise:
“I thought the people voted on it,” said Russell Wade, 72, who was watching children body-boarding in the waves below Huntington Beach Pier this week. “I guess it doesn’t matter as long as certain groups don’t like what the voters decide. The people voted on it and it should be left alone. Period.”
Another voter echoed the sentiment:
“Why should I waste my time voting if the opposition can find one judge to overturn the will of the people,” said Bill Petersen, 66, of Tustin. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Meanwhile, we have another article that treats seriously the notion, which I mocked last night, that the proposition’s backers had standing for purposes of a trial, but not an appeal. What is perhaps most outrageous about this theory, is that the people pass a proposition because they don’t trust the way that state officials are handling the issue — and then it falls to state officials, who disagree with the proposition, to “defend” the proposition:
The defendants in that case were Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, but they declined to defend the law. As the losing parties, they have authority to appeal Walker’s ruling. But both Brown and Schwarzenegger hailed Walker’s decision and said they would not appeal.
“The governor supports the judge’s ruling,” spokesman Aaron McLear said Thursday.
A private group that opposes same-sex marriage, ProtectMarriage.com, defended Proposition 8 during the trial Walker held earlier this year. The group wants to appeal but may lack legal standing to do so.
There is more at stake here than gay marriage. If that argument prevails, it eviscerates California’s initiative process, as to any law that the Attorney General and Governor don’t like.
Free advice for Meg Whitman’s handlers: this needs to be a major issue in Jerry Brown’s campaign.
As it happens, the judge’s standing argument not only lacks common sense, it lacks legal soundness as well. Not that you would know that from reading the L.A. Times. Here is Ed Whelan:
[S]ettled principles of California law, including but not limited to the very same type of legal authority relied upon by Karcher—a State Supreme Court decision permitting intervention—establishes Proponents’ authority “as agents of the people of Arizona to defend, in lieu of public officials,” the constitutionality of Proposition 8.
(Thanks to A.W. for this link.)
In the L.A. Times article, these settled principles are only fleetingly alluded to by John Eastman before they are ridiculed by the usual suspect Erwin Chemerinsky, a partisan hack whose views on the law are purely a function of political ideology.
But pay no attention to settled principles, or to the sanctity of the vote. All of this is dispensable when it comes time to negate your vote for ideological reasons.