February 24, 2004
A Line in the Sand
In case you’ve been hiding under a nipple disc, I’ll break the news to you: President Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage today.
I, for one, am quite glad.
See, people (e.g. our dear President) keep on tossing around these phrases — “activist judges,” “activist courts,” “judicial activism.” The words don’t much mean anything; an “activist judge” is for all intents and purposes one whose judgment you disagree with. In this case, the charge of “judicial activism” is the last refuge of a group of zealots bent on imposing its dominance over a minority. The will of the majority is being subverted!!, they say. Four judges in Massachusetts, five judges on the Supreme Court, two judges in California are all defying the desires of the people!!
Fortunately for civil rights in America, judges don’t represent the people, they represent the law.
· PEDANTIC CIVICS LESSON TO FOLLOW ·
Legislators elected by the people create the laws, the judges interpret them, and the executives enforce them. It’s an elegant little triangle. The role of the judges is often protecting groups of people against the casual tyrannies of the majority. The judges in these marriage cases have interpreted the highest will of the people to be equal rights for all, and have forced the executives to comply. If that is not the will of the people, let them tell us so.
The core of the power always belongs to the people. And that power is held above all else in one document — the Constitution — that embodies not just the will of the majority, but the will of the people, the judgment of a vast, varied segment of America. That document contains the truths we all, more or less, hold to be self-evident, and every inferior law must pass its muster.
So to change that document requires an unmistakeable quorum — over two-thirds of both legislatures in over three-fourths of the states must agree on the change.
· END PEDANTRY ·
So now we get to actually see what the people want the law to do. If the determined will of the people truly is to officially invalidate hundreds of thousands of relationships, then Vancouver, here I come.
But I look forward to the fight, because I believe that is not the determined will of the people. I think it’s a panicked, reactionary response to progress by a frightened plurality, and such weak sentiments do not a Constitutional Amendment make.