Wednesday, January 21, 2004

MIXED MESSAGES
"Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person and the possibilities of every life."
-Pres. George W. Bush, State of the Union 2002

"Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people's voice must be heard. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."
-Pres. Bush, State of the Union Address 2003



The problem, of course, is not the activist judges but federal and state constitutions. The US Constitution has a provision guaranteeing the equal protection of the law for all citizens. Most states have similar clauses. Those "activist" judges are merely insisting that Congress and state legislatures respect the relevant constitution. Constitutional rights can’t be taken away by 50%+1 of a legislature.

Imagine if the majority in a bunch state legislatures passed laws saying that blacks couldn't marry whites. And then a few of "activist judges" decided that these laws were unconstitutional. Of course, this isn't imagination but history. Was the US Supreme Court right to strike down Jim Crow laws, laws which were an expression of majority will in the respective states?

The president spent huge chunks this year’s State of the Union address saying how wonderful we were to liberate Iraqis and Afghans. To give the oppressed people their freedom. To give women and minorities fair treatment and equality under the law. Then he threatened not to only legalize, but to constitutionalize, obligatory discrimination against a group of law-abiding American citizens.

Shame on you, Mr. President. In addition to being morally repugnant, this is not the message we need to be sending to Iraqis and Afghans as they attempt to build a better society.

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