Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Petitio Principii in California

While I am on the subject of would be oligarchs, California Attorney General, Jerry Brown, who is the former and, if current reports are accurate, maybe the future governor of that state (reminds me of a friend who used to work for Louisiana State investigative division who told me that when out of office, the now prisoner, Edwin Edwards, was introduced as "the former, future governor of Louisiana"- I guess recycling extends to politics these days, too) and whose Dad was governor, is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, a referendum passed on 4 November that amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. His reasoning? "Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification."

I guess explicitly defining the family in the way it was understood when the state constitution was written and ratified is not compelling justification. In other words, not only is the justification compelling, but to assert that there is a "fundamental constitutional" right at stake is to beg the question. The only basis for such a claim is the State Supreme Court's ruling back in May claiming such a right. The citizens of California rejected this claim and amended the constitution in a legal and fair manner. Hence, there is no reasonable basis for Attorney General Brown's argument. Alas, law these days has less and less to do with reason properly employed because legal arguments and judicial decisions are no longer grounded on any objective premises. As Alasdair MacIntyre describes us, we are an emotivist society with no way of arriving at a consensus that is not seen as an arbitrary imposition, a power play, of one side against another. Such attempts at ushering in rule by the judiciary do not bode well for the future of our constitutional system of government, which is grounded on objective premises. In addition to After Virtue, I am also reminded of the highly controversial 1996 First Things symposium, The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics.

So, here’s the question, why is an elected official seeking to overturn a legally enacted constitutional amendment? The lesson here is that, as voters, we need to stop playing both sides of the street. We must vote in a clear-headed manner. How can we continue support candidates who do not value what we hold dear and expect anything different?

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