Monday, August 9, 2010

Califormia's Proposition 8 ruling

Looking at the recent Proposition 8 decision in California (ruling against the gay marriage ban), I think the most disturbing thing about the case has nothing to do with the decision.

This was a standard court case challenging a law. The plaintiffs sue the government, but because the government can't be sued directly (sovereign immunity), they instead sue state officials, in this case the governor, attorney general, and a few others. In a normal case, the government then defends the case in court.

However, in the case of Proposition 8 this didn't happen. All of the government officials named said they didn't like Proposition 8 and would not defend against the lawsuit. The groups which pushed Proposition 8 on the ballot had to be added to the case so there would be somebody to argue both sides.

This is a disturbing precedent. It's the job of California's state officials to defend the California constitution. By failing to defend a legally enacted amendment, they are stating that they will only enforce laws they agree with.

This is a dangerous precedent. You might cheer those who didn't defend Proposition 8, but next time it may be a law you support that a politician decides to ignore.

It's the job of government officials to enforce and defend legally enacted laws. What would gay rights activists say if next California governor opposes gay marriage and decides to ignore the court ruling making it legal?

Officials must defend and enforce the law regardless of their personal feelings.