Friday, March 6, 2009

California Prop 8 court debate, my thought

So this probably doesn't mean much to people outside California (maybe), but our Supreme Court is currently debating challenges to Prop 8, which changed the California Constitution to make gay marriage invalid. This was in response to the court making it valid under the equal protection concept in the Constitution. At first glace, you might think the case would be over quickly: it's invalid in the Constitution now, so the court would just toss the bogus challenges... but you might be wrong; at least one of the challenges is more interesting than that, and (I think) has some merit.

I'm going to ignore most of the arguments presented by the opponents of Prop 8, and focus on the one which seems to me to actually be a valid legal reason why the court should take action. The most interesting argument is roughly this, as I understand it: it requires a different procedure, and a 2/3 majority vote, to change the Constitution in a way which conflicts with the existing Constitution. The avenue taken by Prop 8 was an amendment which appends to or clarifies the Constitution, which only takes a simple majority.

Now here's why I think the argument has merit. Per the previous court's ruling (which legalized gay marriage), the court found that it violated the Constitution for the state to deny people the right to marry other people of the same gender; therefor, that protection is implicitly found to be in the Constitution (per the court ruling). Prop 8 directly contradicts that protection, which means Prop 8 conflicts with the existing (pre Prop 8) Constitution.

IMHO, the court should find that the sponsors who put forward Prop 8 knew that it directly conflicted with the state Constitution, per the previous interpretation by the court. Therefor, they erred in passing it as a clarification amendment, and it should be invalidated in its current form, and re-voted as a change amendment (requiring a 2/3 majority). Although the people do, as Ken Star testified, have the unalienable right to modify their own Constitution, the Court should ensure that they only do so with sufficient popular support under the law, especially in cases where previously existing rights are being changed. If the court has erred egregiously in a ruling or decision, a 2/3 majority should not be a difficult barrier for the people to right the injustice, while at the same time it provides a more meaningful barrier to the simple majority abusing minorities at will without redress in the courts.

That's my opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment