Main | Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Shannon Minter On The Prop 8 Hearing

"I was concerned by the tenor of many of the justices' questions today. The court has a responsibility to enforce the California Constitution, which gives elected state officials--not private initiative sponsors--the authority to decide whether to appeal a federal court decision invalidating a state law. Both conservative and progressive elected officials have occasionally exercised that discretion in the past by choosing not to expend state resources to defend invalidated measures. Permitting special interest groups to usurp that decision-making authority would dramatically change the current law and take a giant step down the road of turning California into a mobocracy.

"I was disappointed that, with some notable exceptions, too many of the court's questions today did not address the specific legal questions before them, but rather seemed to glorify the initiative process in the abstract and to abdicate a searching examination of the California Constitution in favor of emotional appeals to 'the people.' The initiative process is already frequently misused to target vulnerable groups, due in part to the Court's past reluctance to enforce any meaningful limits on the process, even when those limits are mandated by the California Constitution. I sincerely hope the Court does not compound that mistake by now giving initiative proponents an unprecedented new power to step outside of their proper legislative role and usurp the power that our Constitution gives only to elected state officials in the executive branch." - Shannon Minter, Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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