Monday, November 8, 2010

Legislating From The Bench or Doing Their Job

Here in Iowa, our election day was not only for representatives, senators and a governor. In fact, a huge issue getting a lot of the play was on the retention or rejection of 3 Iowa Supreme Court justices. After all was said and done, Marsha K. Ternus, the chief justice; Michael J. Streit; and David L. Baker — received about 45 percent of the vote, making this the first time members of the state’s high court had been rejected by voters.

“I think it will send a message across the country that the power resides with the people,” said Bob Vander Plaats, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor who led the campaign. “It’s we the people, not we the courts.”


“What is so disturbing about this is that it really might cause judges in the future to be less willing to protect minorities out of fear that they might be voted out of office,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. “Something like this really does chill other judges.”


A massive portion of the campaign to oust the judges was funded by out of state groups, helping to support the efforts led by Vander Plaats, and heralded by Representative Steve King.

A lot of the arguments put forth by pundits and regular citizens alike was that the ouster was the result of Iowans being displeased with the state Supreme Court legislating from the bench. Now I may be a conservative, but this is one area where I break ranks with our so-called standard bearers.

For one, I personally think the idea of gay marriage is a non-issue and therefor irrelevant in regards to government oversight, save the license issuing process that heterosexual couples go through. Secondly, I personally believe the process behind letting citizens decide to stop homosexuals from being allowed to marry or not is ludicrous. Since the state Supreme Court said the legislation was essentially flawed and struck down as unconstitutional, gay marriage opponents and politicians have taken to their soapboxes to proclaim the injustice of an opinion differing from theirs. Boo-friggin-hoo!

I believe when allowing citizens to vote on the rights of other people's lives you have to look at a couple things. One- does there allowance to participate in some activity truly harm you? Two- Is the vote on an amendment to allow a freedom or restrict a freedom.

Personally, I know gay people, and have some people related to me who have chosen (or are naturally?) the homosexual lifestyle. Am I for gay activities? Not really. I have always and will always prefer women for romantic relations. But in regards to homosexuality I don't have to participate in, condone, or suffer from their lifestyle, or choose to associate myself with anyone who does. Whether or not two gay people decide to get married will ultimately never affect me personally, and I highly doubt it will affect any of the other straight people living around here.

Conservatives are always bitching about how they want the government to stay out of their personal lives and let them live and operate freely as they see fit. But then all of a sudden, hoards of queers appear on the horizon, in full war paint ready to charge on in and ruin their idea of civilization, and now they want to use our system of governance to prohibit the activities of individuals.

Look I get the God-fearing church crowd being dismayed at homosexual activities and lifestyle, I really do. Say what you want, let your heart be filled with all that hate you wish to hold, but remember a couple teachings from the Good Book. Do not judge, for that is the role of God. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Pull the plank out of your own eye before removing the speck from your brother's.

In other words, you aren't perfect, so who the hell are you to tell other people how wrong they are. Fix up your own house and let others fix their own house as they see fit. Again, you don't have to hang out with homosexuals or people who accept homosexuals as friends for that matter. You don't have to engage in homosexual behavior or gay marriage. Your church does not have to recognize anything related to homosexuals. In the same moment, keep your government out of it as well.

Quit pissing and moaning about how the government is trying to legislate your activities, and then turn around and do the same thing to someone you disagree with. That only makes you a hypocrite. And while everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinions, the rest of those around you are equally entitled to disagree with you and tell you to stuff it where the sun don't shine.

So, unlike many of my conservative friends, I voted to retain the three judges. I voted for the losing side. That doesn't make me wrong, just makes me in the minority at the polls. The judges did NOT legislate from the bench, contrary to popular opinion, but merely did their job in not restricting the freedoms of citizens under their jurisdiction.

9 comments:

Curtis Bloes said...

With the exception of the fact that I always vote against retention on principal, (and will continue to do so until the day they set a four year limit on appointments,) You've captured the essence of what I feel on this one. Excellent post.

Becky said...

Interesting. I remember arguing this issue with you once and you argued the other side. I guess you were just playing devil's advocate.

americanelephant said...

You may find this strange, or even annoying, but I have to disagree with you. I think you've seen me mention that I'm a homo, and you know I'm conservative, but I am conservative first, because conservative principles are essential to protecting the rights of all Americans, including gays, and upholding essential constitutional principles. And this is most definitely harmful judicial activism.

You said the court was doing their job of not restricting the freedoms of citizens, but they DID restrict citizens freedoms. And gays never had any freedoms restricted to begin with.

1. Gays CAN marry. We can spend our lives with whomever we want, we can buy property together, tie our finances together, pick out china, hold a ceremony, commit to each other in the presence of all our family and friends, bind ourselves in knots legally, we can call it a marriage -- there are even churches that will host and officiate the ceremonies. We can leave our belongings to one another in our wills, sign power of attorney.

Government doesn't prohibit any of it.

The only thing the government wont do is sanction gay marriage and say it is equivalent to a heterosexual marriage.

Which, contrary to most gays delusions, and as anyone who has taken third grade biology can tell you, it's NOT equivalent!

There are 6.5 billion people on earth, ALL of whom prove that there is a very large, very meaningful, world-altering difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Every human being on earth came from a heterosexual couple and ZERO came from same-sex couples.

That is not an unimportant difference. Its a fundamental one. And the court has no business saying the people arent entitled to think that is an important difference.

SO, what the left is really arguing, is NOT that the Constitution demands that the law treat homosexuals and heterosexuals equally, the law already does that, but they are saying the Constitution demands that the law treat homosexuality the same as heterosexuality.

And what the Iowa court has done is USURP the right of the Iowa people to define what the very purpose of their own institutions is.

By making an utterly ridiculous, biologically retarded, factually erroneous equivalency, they have said that Iowans dont have the RIGHT to define what the purpose of marriage is to begin with. They have said Iowans dont have the right to hold up heterosexual marriage, and the nuclear family as the ideal that they would like to encourage.

Now someone can STILL make the argument that society SHOULD approve gay marriage, but that is for the people and their legislatures to decide. There is NO constitutional right to have homosexuality treated as equivalent to heterosexuality. And the court is usurping powers that belong to the people by declaring otherwise.

Mookie said...

Curtis- thank you. I have no problem with voter's rejection of the justices on a legal basis, but when it comes to whims of citizens idea of social constructs which must be upheld being the litmus test, then I have issues.

Becky- you ought to know by now, I'll argue over anything just to have something to do. Added bonus when the other person gets visibly annoyed with me- which means I've won by default.

Mookie said...

AE-

First off let me get it out of my system.
"I think you've seen me mention that I'm a homo."

This is just funny to me. I've heard, "I'm gay." or "I'm a homosexual." But when you put it like you did, it just seems humorously self depracating for some reason. But yes, I've seen you mention it on multiple occasions.

Here's a few points I'd like to make in response to your comment. First- I agree that homosexual and heterosexual marriages are clearly different. Just as a man and a woman are clearly different no matter what kind of socialization you try to educate people with, it is just plain different and can't be changed. Nature will always beat out nurture in such cases. I won't argue that either two are the same. I argue against the processes in how each can operate.

Personally when you say gays can marry, its just not sanctioned by the government as the same seems to me to be a very semantical argument.

Gays can get married, in essence, but in many places there is no legal means of being 'married' and having it recognized. In order to get all the same legal benefits of partnership that a heterosexual couple can however requires a million different hoops to jump through however, and this is where I find the inequality amongst CITIZENS (their sexual orientation is an irrelevant status, or at least should be when it comes to constitutional muster).

Along the same lines, I could marry my sister, or my best male friend..neither being sanctioned. One for biological hazard in reproduction rules, the other because of the whole gay marriage thing (plus we like each other but not that much). Not marrying them, but providing them with all the benefits of marriage requires me to jump thru all these extra hoops. Whereas, with my wife, all we had to do was fill out and pay for marriage license, pay the pastor his fee to perform the ceremony, and voila- all the rights are assumed by law automatically. In fact, the only hoops I have to jump through in regards to legalities, are if I wish to keep my wife's hands OFF of things and bestow the rights to someone other than her.
The main point here being that the law does in fact NOT treat homosexual and heterosexual couples equally in procedural terms. They explicitly set up different routes for each to follow, despite equal American citizenship status.

It would be like a court with the backing of the people in say Virginia saying white couples can marry and black couples can marry, but interracial couples can not marry in the state, and will not be recognized as such within said jurisdictions. Because the biologies have changed, and its against the social order and wishes of the people in how they would like to see a nuclear family,whatever legal-schmegal arguments they might come up with as to why - according to a ballot initiative. If the court were then to overturn that, would it be judicial activism, or merely a legal reminder to the people that you cant just adjust laws against people or behaviors you don't approve of because 'it aint right or normal.'?

Now yes, you can say people equate things to racism to villify them, but remember...I'm not one of those people. I just choose to run the easiest and most extreme comparison argument to pull up.

Clearly this is a subject which can inflame people on both sides. And ultimately my larger point when it comes to politics is that it really is a nonissue to be brought up in stump speeches and congressional platforms. Right now I'm more concerned with economics and all that it includes, foreign policies, etc.

americanelephant said...

"it just seems humorously self depracating for some reason."

That's how it's intended. There's few things as uncomfortable for everyone involved than having someone, in the middle of a conversation, announce "I'm gay!" So
1) I don't bring it up unless it's relevant, and
2) I try to do it with a wee bit of humor to make it a little less awkward.

I will try to get back on this later. I understand where you are coming from, but nobody's rights are being violated, and there is a BIG difference between treating homosexuals as equal under the law, which the constitution demands we must do, and treating homosexuality as equivalent to heterosexuality which the constitution does not because it would be ridiculous to claim they are equivalent. And which is a bad idea that would be bad for society.

but that will have to be later.

renaissanceguy said...

Mike, your whole argument hinges on the notion that homosexual relationships are valid and legitimate and the same as heterosexual ones. The most important difference between them is that children can result from one but not from the other.

You write as though homosexual people have always been allowed to get married under the law until some mean, evil people came along and took their rights away. That's hardly the case.

The argument for same-sex marriage boils down to "we want it," which is never a good reason to write a law. (I might want the "right" to retire at age 50 with quadruple Social Security benefits, but just because I say that I have the right and say that I want it, does not mean that a law should be written to fulfill my wish.)

Frankly, I wish that "rights" were not created for married couples. Then this whole conflict would be pointless. If the government did not provide benefits to married couples, which they should not, then there would be no benefits for homosexuals to say they are being deprived of.

The only reason for the state to sanction marriage is for the sake of the children. Homosexual unions do not produce children; therefore, the state has no interest at all in their relationships.

Mookie said...

RG-

"You write as though homosexual people have always been allowed to get married under the law until some mean, evil people came along and took their rights away. That's hardly the case."

Actually no that's not my argument at all. My argument is why are we using the law to try to cement the activity as banned. My bigger argument is who cares and who is definitively hurt if these people want to be married? Whether they get married or don't ultimately means nothing to me. In fact I find it to be political subterfuge to increase votes while avoiding real tangible issues that need to be dealt with.

"Frankly, I wish that "rights" were not created for married couples. Then this whole conflict would be pointless."

This I can see and agree with.

"The only reason for the state to sanction marriage is for the sake of the children. Homosexual unions do not produce children; therefore, the state has no interest at all in their relationships."

True, with a caveat. I believe the state sanctions marriage for the money they get off the licenses, but the homoseual marriage thing is too controversial to have allowed it in on just a money case. and given the high rate of non-marital related births...where's the state interest lie with all those kids?

Becky said...

"The only reason for the state to sanction marriage is for the sake of the children. Homosexual unions do not produce children; therefore, the state has no interest at all in their relationships."

"True, with a caveat. I believe the state sanctions marriage for the money they get off the licenses, but the homoseual marriage thing is too controversial to have allowed it in on just a money case. and given the high rate of non-marital related births...where's the state interest lie with all those kids?"

In addition, heterosexual unions may not produce children either. The couple could be uninterested or unable. Yet they are allowed to marry. I do not understand why the potential to bear children has any relevance as to who is allowed to marry.