I, The Dreamboat of Voting, the VoteBoatNoter, just finished two terms as president of my local chapter of the League of Women Voters. It’s quite a fun ride, being a local LWV president, but you’re constrained by rules of decorum so you can’t go yelling “woo-hoo” and “aaaaaaah” all the time like you might on a roller coaster. More to the point, you can’t go around criticizing candidates in elections, and you’re not supposed to whine publicly about the doings or positions of other levels of the League.
As of this week, I’m done with that. Woo-hoo!
Last week I couldn’t, but now I can tell you how disappointed I am by Justice Elena Kagan’s vote in the Proposition 8 case: Extremely. The electorate is a second legislature in California, and its leaders for any particular ballot measure are the people who propose the measure. There is no set term limit for this type of leadership, because the general rule is that California ballot measures, once enacted, have no expiration date. One ballot measure can only be erased by another ballot measure.
Denying our legislative leaders the right to defend our laws in federal court disrespected our democracy. In a nutshell, the Prop. 8 decision simply denied legislative leaders from California the right to defend California laws in federal court. IMHO, that was wrong.
There was no word from The Court about whether Prop. 8 was constitutional. And because there has been no ballot measure to erase Prop. 8 (even though a repeal would have passed if put on the ballot), its words are still in state law, ready to be revived in effect if The Court eventually holds that a State may indeed limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Justice Kagan and her court not only disrespected our democracy, they visibly injured the oft-derided but generally cherished California initiative. Aaaaaargh!
I’ve been trying to come up with a good bodily injury description of what five Justices did (over the dissent of four). They “cut the index fingers off of the initiative?” (Both right and left fingers, since proponents from either side may no longer raise their fingers to make points in federal court?) “Cut off its legs,” so it can’t walk up the courthouse steps? Got another idea?
What makes this particularly gut-wrenching for me (and why I’m only talking about Justice Kagan even though she didn’t write the opinion) is that Justice Kagan is a family friend. She even came to my nephew’s bar mitzvah! Oy.