Tag Archives: Trial

What the death of Prop 8 means for democracy and the rule of law

ECM messaged me about this post from the Public Discourse. The author is the person who managed to get a constitutional amendment defining marriage in California, only to see if defeated three times by judges.

Federal judge was in a gay relationship:

The Prop 8 challenge landed in the San Francisco federal courtroom of Vaughn Walker. We’re supposed to accept that this happened randomly, and that the plaintiffs weren’t tipped off by someone in the court system to file the case at a particular time when Judge Walker happened to be the one who’d get it.

Whether by accident or grand design, it was a fortunate assignment for the plaintiffs. Walker was a judge in a long-term committed relationship with another man—in other words, he was in exactly the type of relationship as the plaintiffs who were bringing suit. Walker never disclosed this critical fact to Prop 8 supporters, or to the public, despite judicial rules requiring such disclosure if even the appearance of impropriety was present.

Private citizens have to defend the law of the land:

While the lawsuit stood before a hometown judge, state officials did everything in their power to throw the case. Both then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to defend the law enacted by the people of California, despite their sworn oath of office to do so. The current Attorney General, Kamala Harris, dutifully took the same course.

Of course, the constitution of California does not give to the governor or the attorney general the power to decide for themselves which laws are constitutional and which are not, nor are they free to determine which laws shall be defended and which shall be abandoned. But no matter.

Having orphaned Prop 8, leaving it and the seven million citizens who enacted it defenseless in court, it fell to the backers of the initiative to defend the law in the federal courts. This not only cost the supporters of Prop 8 over $10 million in legal expenses; it ultimately put a sleeper hold on the initiative.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

Next the case headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it became the province of a panel including Stephen Reinhardt, senior judge of the circuit and widely considered to be one of the most liberal (and most overturned) judges in America. I frankly never expected much relief out of what many conservatives ruefully refer to as the “Ninth Circus.” But even I was surprised by the chicanery involved in Reinhardt’s handling of the case.

It turns out that his wife, an attorney with the ACLU, had advised the plaintiffs’ lawyers on strategy before this very case was even filed! Reinhardt refused to recuse himself from deciding the case his wife had participated in, and went on to write a majority opinion finding that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.

And then on the Supreme Court, and we know how that ended.

The conclusion of the piece is very moving, but saddening too.

Here’s part of it:

I feel like we were cheated. Just like I felt as a kid watching the bad guy put a sleeper hold on his opponent, or hitting him below the belt or with the brass knuckles while the referee had his back turned, so have the legal system and politicians cold-cocked the people of California—seven million of whom went to the polls to lawfully enact Prop 8. Only this time, I realize there’s not likely to be a rematch. The cheaters won.

I feel like the rule of law has been shredded, and conniving politicians have been rewarded for ignoring their sworn oath of office. Public confidence in the judicial system has been dealt a severe blow. Supporters of same-sex “marriage” may be happy with the result today, but hold on until the tables are turned and a conservative governor and attorney general refuse to defend a law they don’t personally support, and there’s nobody left with standing to defend it. The seeds of that action will have been sown by leftist politicians like Brown, Harris, and Schwarzenegger.

I feel like a broadside has ripped a great hole in the initiative and referendum process itself. I have managed nearly forty statewide ballot initiative campaigns in my career. The initiative process is one of the few viable ways to get a recalcitrant government to respond to legitimate issues that are not being addressed by the legislature or the state administration. By its nature, citizens are often pushing a law that is opposed by those in power.

Now those very people in power—the governor and attorney general—have been given a pocket veto over the initiative process itself. They can invalidate any measure they don’t personally support simply by refusing to defend it in federal court. Such power was never contemplated by the framers of the constitution, or by the people of California, but that is the practical result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8. Again—it is marriage today, but tomorrow it could be any other issue on the political spectrum.

I feel a measure of sadness for all the people who worked so hard for something they believed so passionately—a belief shared by millions of people. Campaigns are about ideas and laws, certainly, but they involve real people.

So I think about people like Scott Eckern, a distinguished musical producer, who was forced to resign from the California Musical Theater in Sacramento over his $1,000 contribution in support of Prop 8. I think about Marjorie Christofferson, a then-67-year-old employee at her family-owned Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, who was forced to take a leave from the business over donating a mere $100 to our campaign.

I think about the 80,000 people just like them—moms and dads, retirees, students, husbands and wives—who gave generously of their financial resources to allow us to mount a winning campaign. I think about all the pastors, priests, bishops, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders who put their religious differences aside to work together in support of the eternal truth about marriage—that it is a covenant between one man and one woman, modeled after God’s own covenant with us.

And I think about the 250,000 volunteers in our campaign who walked precincts, knocked on doors, and manned phone banks, including Jose Nunez, a proud immigrant and newly sworn-in US citizen, who was physically assaulted by a Prop 8 opponent while waiting to distribute signs outside his Catholic church.

All of these people paid a tremendous price. They, and the voters, deserved better than to be left undefended before the legal system, abandoned by those sworn to defend them, ignored by judges determined to impose a particular result, and then orphaned by the Supreme Court as the great referee pretended not to see all the nefarious activity going on with the case right in front of them.

I still haven’t really gotten my head around all of the unfairness that happened with the defeat of Prop 8 by leftist lawyers and judges. How can it be that elected officials refuse to defend the law of the land? But this is not just a California issue. The Obama administration also refused to defend DOMA in court.  The amount of money and time that was spent in vain by the pro-marriage team on these legal efforts makes me very unhappy. The Prop 8 campaign involved millions of dollars, thousands of volunteers, and enormous amounts of time spent by everyone. Conservatives can’t take on these Herculean tasks and keep losing. The money and time we spent on defending marriage is gone once it’s gone. It can’t be spent a second time on something else.

We are already living in a time where over 40% of children are being born out-of-wedlock – facing the world without their father, because women choose to take welfare instead of marrying a good man before getting pregnant. We are already living in a world where over 40% of first-time marriages end in divorce, thanks to no-fault divorce laws and anti-male divorce courts. Gay marriage just makes it worse, and that’s the real tragedy. The family is dying, and no one seems to care. No one seems to be aware of the purpose of marriage for society. They are so busy smashing it down that they never stop to ask why it was there in the first place.

Natural marriage defenders defeat redefinition of marriage in Illinois

The National Organization for Marriage has the story.

Excerpt:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today celebrated the failure of legislation to come to a vote late this evening in Illinois seeking to redefine marriage, thus preserving marriage in the state as the union of one man and one woman. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, announced this evening that he did not have the votes to pass the measure and would not bring the legislation to a vote. Assuming this is the case, the bill is thus dead until the fall when the Legislature reconvenes for a veto session.

“This effort to redefine marriage in Illinois was one of the most fiercely contested legislative battles in the country this year,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “This is a great victory for our allies and supporters, as well as Illinois families who have worked tirelessly with us to preserve marriage in Illinois. We are gratified that our collective hard work has paid off in this stunning victory.”

Illinois is a heavily Democratic state and has been widely considered by the gay marriage lobby as virtually certain to redefine marriage. Backers of the legislation have frequently claimed, falsely, that they had the votes in hand to pass the legislation (SB 10). President Obama had urged his former colleagues to vote to redefine marriage, and it was a top priority of both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn. It even was supported by a former Republican Chairman who was forced to resign from his post for advocating a position contrary to Republican principles.

“So much for the inevitability of gay marriage,” said Brian Brown. “With a coalition that included strong support from the African American community as well as so many others throughout the state, we did what nobody in the intelligentsia thought was possible. This is a huge victory at a pivotal time, and totally undercuts the lie that somehow same-sex marriage is inevitable.”

NOM spent well over $125,000 on grassroots activities to defeat the bill, but praised others in the coalition for securing the victory.

Good news for those of us who support the idea that natural marriage is the best arrangement for protecting the needs of children and the interests of society as a whole. Illinois is one of the bluest states in the country, but it’s nice to see that NOM was able to pull together enough people to get this legislation defeated.

Weekly Standard podcast on Sebelius vs Hobby Lobby

The Weekly Standard has a great podcast that covers fiscal, social and foreign policy issues from a conservative perspective.

Excerpt:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with the Becket Fund’s Adele Keim on the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius case.

This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s iTunes podcast feed here.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD would like to thank The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Adele Keim for joining us.

Fox News has a report.

Excerpt:

In the most prominent challenge of its kind, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. asked a federal appeals court Thursday for an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.

The Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain argued that businesses — not just the currently exempted religious groups — should be allowed to seek exception from that section of the health law if it violates their religious beliefs.

The arguments Thursday centered on the Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and a sister company, Christian booksellers Mardel Inc. An eight-judge panel peppered both sides with questions about whether the contraceptives mandate is an undue burden on the Greens’ religious belief.

The Greens contend that emergency contraception is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices.

Hobby Lobby’s lawyer argued that the Greens shouldn’t face fines for not complying with mandatory contraceptive coverage simply because their business makes a profit. The stores are a “profit-making company, yes, but also a ministry,” Kyle Duncan argued.

Duncan cited the Citizens United campaign-finance decision that said corporations have constitutional protections.

“We don’t say, well, a corporation can’t exercise a right because it’s in corporate form,” Duncan said.

“Is religion the kind of right can only be exercised by a natural person? Well, the question nearly answers itself. … It’s not a purely personal right.”

In other news, voters support the repeal of Obamacare by a 22-point margin, which is increasing as more and more of the law is actually implemented. Too bad we did not vote to defeat Obama by a 22-point margin last November.

Feminist lawyer’s son falsely charged by university kangaroo court

From the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Stuart Schneiderman)

It starts like this:

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women’s rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice’s looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. “CALL ME. URGENT. NOW.”

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.

In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither “beyond a reasonable doubt,” nor even the lesser “by clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.” What this means, in plain English, is that all my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were “more likely than not” to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens’ protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school’s committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of “witnesses” deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

That the recollections of these young people (made under intense peer pressure and with none of the safeguards consistent with fundamental fairness) were relevant—while records of the accuser’s email and social media postings were not—made a mockery of the very term. While my son was instructed by the committee not to “discuss this matter” with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

This reminds of exactly what Ari wrote about in his novel “Bias Incident“.

Dr. Schneiderman adds his comments:

The process rests on a sad irony. Many years ago feminists decided strong, independent liberated women do not need to be protected by men. Not by their fathers, not by their brothers, not by their husbands.

As a matter of fact, a gentleman who offered a small courteous gestures of respect was routinely denounced by feminists as a gross insult. He was treating a woman as a member of the weaker sex.

If a man opened a door for a woman, he was called a sexist for assuming that the woman could not open the door herself.

The feminist message was clear: modern women can take care of themselves.

Well, not exactly. Since men are predators, prone to abuse and molest strong, independent women, these women need an extra level of protection: they need to have an extra-judicial procedure that can inflict serious punishment on any male who would see fit to ill-treat them.

No one needs to worry that women might abuse the privilege by bringing unfounded charges against certain men. No, it can’t happen. Women always tell the truth.

Apparently, the problem of violence against women is so bad that the criminal justice system cannot deal with it. It is so out-of-control that the civil justice system cannot do the job.

That’s the real problem: feminism.

When you have a group of feminists who set out to destroy the traditional gender roles of men, and who criminalize the traditional virtues of men, then you should NOT be surprised that government has to grow to fill the void. They told women that chastity was out, and chivalry was out. Traditional male roles of protector, provider, and moral/spiritual leader are out. What kind of men do women choose if they want to avoid all of those traditional male virtues? Bad men. And when bad men aren’t doing what the feminists want, they resort to big government to coerce and punish them. Every other man looking on to this situation is going to be reinforced not to pursue relationships with women, out of fear that they could be hit with false accusations for upsetting her – even if he hasn’t done anything at all!

Eventually, men will just opt out of all contact with women in order to have their freedom to say and do what they feel like. I will look forward to the day when feminists spent the last 40 years of their lives alone in their apartments, talking to their cats. What man in his right mind would want anything to do with these nutcases and their weird ideology?

Going to university? Then be aware of the secular leftist thought police

Here’s a fine book I enjoyed by my friend Ari Mendelson, which talks about the dangers of political correctness on campus.

Excerpt:

Lured by brochures promising limitless intellectual freedom, Jeff Jackson arrives at picturesque Tinsley College, eager to experience college life to the fullest. He does not know that the freedom he has been promised is in short supply at Tinsley, a college so dedicated to leftist ideals that the administration changed the name of the anthropology department to “anthrogynology” in order to make the name more “gender inclusive.”

Jeff makes the mistake of believing that the renowned Professor Bancroft Tarlton would be willing to debate the left wing politics that the professor advocates in his classes. Not realizing that there are just some questions one does not ask on a college campus, Jeff submits an essay outlining his provocative theories about happiness and human sexuality.

Professor Tarlton is not the only one furious at Jeff for his lack of devotion to left wing norms. Calling himself a “pomosexual” and believing Jeff to be not only a homophobe, but a “pomophobe” as well, Carl Fitzgerald, Jeff’s classmate, begins a feud with Jeff. The battle escalates from insults, to vandalism, to shattered love affairs and a dorm room inhabited by a fainting goat. In a college obsessed with political correctness, a clash between the writer of a “homophobic” essay and the “pomosexual” victim of a college prank can only end one way: with a showdown in a campus courtroom.

You can click the link to get an electronic copy for $0.99. You will get many times more enjoyment out of it than that. It’s a nice little introduction to parents about what really goes on in the liberal arts departments of most universities.

University is a fine thing as long as you go there to learn math, science, technology or engineering. If you go there to study anything else, all you will learn is how to parrot the opinions of your professor. Any dissent will be met with bad grades, and possibly expulsion. There is no focus on producing value outside of the STEM departments. Not only is it a waste of money to be indoctrinated, but it destroys your ability to think critically and independently.

Note: I have a BS and MS in the hard sciences, and that’s what I recommend to everyone going to college. Engineering, math and technology – you can’t go wrong with actual marketable skills.