Monday, March 25, 2013

Proposition 8 - Why is the Supreme Court involved

In hearing various commentary about Proposition 8, one of the consistent questions I hear being asked, and not adroitly answered, is, "Why is the Supreme Court involving itself in (potentially) overturning the will of the people?"

As I said, the asnwers I've heard aren't adroit.  One answer which is being given is that it will take years if not decades to bring to bear public opinion to overturn laws like Prop 8 (or a similar law here in Minnesota).  That's true, and like anti-sodomy laws, it may in fact take 100 years.  It's not morally right that people be denied rights for 100 years while the political process works itself out, but in a nation of laws, letting the "will of the people" decide things sometimes isn't pretty.  Consequenntly, this very meanginful point is not, unfortunately, a winning argument.

No, here's the answer so many of you may be unaware of, looking for, denying, or whatever it is you are doing or seeking.

Quite simply, the majority aren't allowed to strip fundamental rights from the minority.  Just because the majority gets together and passes a law, it doesn't make it constitutional.  If the majority got together and banned criticism of President Obama about his Iraq policy, doesn't mean that law gets to stand. 

Prop 8 was struck down because the judge in the case basically said, "You can't show a valid reason for denying people this right, there, furthermore, is not good cause to do so (which is the test when we NEED to limit a right), and so the majority doesn't get to strip these rights."

That's the reason, and it's one of the basic reasons for the Supreme Court, to prevent the legislature (or through direct ballot action - the majority) from improperly stripping rights from people. 

In this case, California sought to prevent churches from performing a sacriment they were willing to perform (marraige) for people they approved of marrying (gays and lesbians).  They (the majority) ALSO sought to prevent gays and lesbians from excersing a fundamental right (to marry the person of their choice, presumably whom they love) - the majority sought to deny them that right.  So Prop 8 intruded on the "free expression" right of the church and upon the right to marry by choice.  Their was no good reason to do so, and so the court is asked, rightly, to tell the majoirty they don't get to strip rights from people simply because they are the majority.  It's a fundamental check against excess, and without question, Prop 8 is an overstep by the majority.  Unless you think a simple majority vote should be allowed to keep you from voting, from speaking out, or from due process, you should be appalled by Prop 8 and you certainly should undertand the reason why SCOTUS is involved.  It's their job.

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