Could Democracy Be Getting a Black Eye?
Could Democracy Be Getting a Black Eye?: It would if the courts decide to overturn Proposition 8.
By Nathan A. Cherry
I am not a lawyer, and I won’t even pretend to know all there is to know about the law. But, I thought for sure I had some of the basics down. For example, if something is brought to the people for a vote, the outcome of that vote is to be the law regarding that particular issue. Am I wrong?
Apparently there are some who are not fond of the democratic process here in America and would like to ditch it altogether in favor of letting judges decide what is and is not legal. This seems to be the case out in California where the state Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments over whether or not Proposition 8, the ballot measure passed by majority vote to ban same-sex marriage, is legal or a constitutional violation of civil rights.
“The California Supreme Court accepted three lawsuits seeking to nullify Proposition 8, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that overruled the court’s decision in May that legalized gay marriage. All three cases claim the measure abridges the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group. They argue that voters alone did not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.” (Click here for the full story).
Wait just a minute. Did I read that correctly? “Voters alone [do] not have the authority to enact such a significant constitutional change.” Well then who does? If I am correct, according to the very essence of democracy it is precisely the people who have the authority to enact such a change. In fact, the whole purpose for democracy is to allow the people to rule and govern themselves so that activists judges and lawmakers are kept in check and accountable.
Are you telling me that the California Supreme Court had the right and authority to overturn the previously stated and voted upon will of the people in May when they overturned a previous ban on same-sex marriage? If that is true then what is the point of the people? Why do we even vote? If everything we vote on can be overturned by any group of judges who decides they don’t’ like how we voted, what is the point?
I believe the Wall Street Journal was correct when it said:
“The great achievement of our system was to create a political order where these great moral disputes, as a matter of policy, are left to the people – with allowance for differences according to region and locale. Moral agents have a role to play, generally by shaping the larger culture in which these decisions are framed and debated. But the outcome is left to the people…” (Click here for the full story in the Wall Street Journal).
And what of other states where same-sex marriage has been legalized? What if opponents of same-sex marriage charged in with bullhorns blazing, signs waiving, and vandalism run amok demanding that the laws be overturned? Does anyone think that there would be as much public interest? Not a chance. Those people would be called every name in the book, told they were out of line and to disperse, cease and desist, or be arrested. And yet we are expected to tolerate the illegal and reprehensive behavior of those in California who are mad that they didn’t get their way.
Every one of us is entitled to our opinion, and the beautiful thing about freedom is that our opinions do not have to be the same. But if freedom and democracy are to survive then they must be respected by all parties, regardless of whether or not we agree.
It is neither free, nor democratic to demand that all people adhere to the same view regardless of how the individual views the issue. That, plain and simple, is communism. If you want a monarchy, move to a European country. If you want communism, move to other European countries or certain Asian countries. But do not demand that democracy and the freedom to vote and have that vote matter be usurped just because you don’t like the outcome of that vote.
Even one of the most supportive backers of same-sex marriage in California, Justice Joyce L. Kennard, voted not to hear the appeals and arguments for overturning Proposition 8. And while her motives and mind-set behind her decision to vote against hearing the cases is unclear at this time, according to an article in the L.A. Times (Click here for the full story), it should be a wake up call to others.
In the same story, UCLA Law Professor Brad Sears says, “It definitely isn’t a good sign,” speaking of Justice Kennard’s decision. He seems to be worried that Justice Kennard, like many others in California, is not falling in line with others by believing that proposition 8 was an “improper revision of the state constitution.”
UC Berkeley Law Professor Jesse H. Choper, guessing at what Kennard might be thinking, said, “What she seems to be saying is that she doesn’t think it is worth reviewing.”
And why would it not be worth reviewing? Could it be due to the fact that something followed every legal guideline and was determined by the people and it should be left alone now for that very reason? That would make perfect sense.
I agree whole-heartedly with three points stated in the previously referenced article in the Wall Street Journal of how usurping the will of the people is corrosive to our political system:
Ø By allowing judges to usurp the will of the people they “act as dishonest referees, imposing one set of preferences over another.”
Ø “They cheat the American people of an honest political contest.”
Ø “They inject cynicism and bitterness into America’s body politic.”
And I know what many are saying. They want to equate the issue of same-sex marriage with the civil rights movement of African Americans. And they say that if America would have been allowed to vote the blacks would still be slaves. It sounds good at first glance, but there is a fundamental difference that distances these two issues by light years in my mind.
There has never been a case of a black person changing skin color and deciding to no longer be black. Skin color does not in any way determine what is or is not a right. Therefore people of all skin colors are inherently equal simply because they are humans.
But, and I know that many do not like to hear this; there are hundreds of accounts of ex-homosexuals. I have personally heard testimony of at least one. That fact alone means that the two issues are completely non-related and cannot be compared.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it should be easy for us all to agree on one thing. Democracy MUST be allowed to run its course. If we, as American citizens, allow judges to make decisions for us now, it will only get worse. And a monster will be born that grows too big for any of us to do anything about. And tomorrow we will all wake up in a sterile, controlled environment where judges and politicians decide everything for us. Where is the freedom in that?
I have not always agreed on the decisions of the American people in voting. But one thing is for sure, and by the grace of God will continue, I will respect the process. It is not perfect, but it is without a doubt the best we have at this time.
When we decide that people are no longer allowed to decide for themselves what laws will and will not be passed we move down a slippery slope toward a monarchy, communism, or even anarchy. And quite frankly no one wins in those systems.
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