It's what you do when a house of cards collapses
January 11, 2010 | Here they go again! An op-ed by Edwin Meese III appeared in this morning's New York Times railing against the judge in the trial over the constitutionality of California's Prop 8, scheduled to begin today.
You'll remember that Prop 8 was a ballot proposition in the last election that stripped gays and lesbians of their right to marry in California, an election in which the same voters afforded new protections to chickens. You'll also remember Ed Meese, presidential advisor and attorney general under his friend Ronald Reagan. And you'll remember Ronald Reagan, the president who couldn't even bring himself to say the word "AIDS" at a time when the epidemic was spiraling out of control and thousands were dying.
The aim of Meese's op-ed is clear: discredit the trial before it even starts. He laments that the trial is being held in San Francisco, which Meese calls a "home-court advantage for same-sex marriage advocates" and he accuses the judge, Judge Vaughn R. Walker, of "putting the sponsors of Proposition 8, and the people who voted for it, on trial."
What I found most interesting is that the arguments Meese makes to support his charges invoke the very things that I think make perfect sense and that I applaud!
And by the way, Judge Vaughn R. Walker, the target of Meese's accusations, was appointed by George H W Bush.
Judge Walker’s decisions have been surprising because they differ from those of other judges who have previously scrutinized marriage laws — in Iowa, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and elsewhere in California, for example. In those instances, the courts have decided legal challenges to state marriage laws based on legislative history, scholarly articles and testimony by social scientists and other experts. They have, in some cases, looked for evidence of legislative intent in the statements published in official voter information pamphlets.
Well, doh! Prop 8 did not come from a legislative history, but through the efforts of some very well-funded culture-warriors intent on imposing their idea of what is proper and "right" on the rest of us.
But in this case, Judge Walker has ruled that things like TV advertisements, press releases and campaign workers’ statements are also relevant evidence of what the voters intended. The judge went so far as to order the Proposition 8 campaign to disclose private internal communications about messages that were considered for public use but never actually used. He has even ordered the campaign to turn over copies of all internal records and e-mail messages relating to campaign strategy.
It is self-evident that TV advertisements, press releases, and campaign statements are relevant — voters had almost nothing else to go on. I'd venture to say that a great many people who voted against (or for, for that matter) Prop 8 did so not on the basis of statements in the official voter information pamphlets, but as a result of what they heard and saw on television and as a result of what they and their like-minded friends told each other about the proposition. Prop 8 was not decided on the basis of "scholarly articles and testimony by social scientists" but as a result of a public relations and advertising campaign conducted primarily on TV and talk radio. There's no better evidence of "intent" than the ads, press releases, and statements.
Most troubling, Judge Walker has also ruled that the trial will investigate the Proposition 8 sponsors’ personal beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality. No doubt, the plaintiffs will aggressively exploit this opportunity to assert that the sponsors exhibited bigotry toward homosexuals, or that religious views motivated the adoption of Proposition 8. They’ll argue that prohibiting gay marriage is akin to racial discrimination.
Hooray! It is precisely those "personal beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality" that drove the sponsors of that proposition. You want bigotry and religious views? Here:
The fact is, "prohibiting gay marriage is akin to racial discrimination" (emphasis added). It is a clear instance of unequal rights and an affront to the cherished American notion that "all men are created equal."
To top it all off, Judge Walker has determined that this case will be the first in the Ninth Circuit to allow cameras in the courtroom, with the proceedings posted on YouTube. This will expose supporters of Proposition 8 who appear in the courtroom to the type of vandalism, harassment and bullying attacks already used by some of those who oppose the proposition.
I say, Bravo! The reason the supporters of Prop 8 don't want the trial to be televised is because the religious and discriminatory basis of Prop 8 will be exposed for all to see when arguments must be factual and reasonable and when they can't rely on innuendo and fear.
And while we're talking about being put on trial — consider the case of Fred Karger, an activist who is now under legal assault from the folks who brought you Prop 8. FiveForFred.com
Last updated on Apr 13, 2018