Archive for May, 2009

California Supreme Court Made the Right Decision in Proposition 8 Case

May 26, 2009

I am a law and order conservative.  The value of law and order is one of the things that I hold very high in politics.  I am also a social conservative, but for me, the values of law and order, must come before morality.  A governments job is to govern, not dictate moral law.  Now, there are areas where the 2 sometimes overlap, and some would argue that Prop. 8 was one of those areas.

Today the California Supreme Court ruled, in a 6-1 decision, that Proposition 8 (Prop. 8 defined marriage as between 1 man and 1 woman) was legal, but that the marriages performed between the court’s previous ruling that same sex marriage was legal and the passage of Prop. 8 were still valid.

I wholeheartedly agree with this ruling.  Personally, I disagree with same sex marriage, but you absolutely cannot pass and ex post facto law invalidating those marriages.  To do so would be a travesty in American government history.

Now, before I begin, I’d like to point one thing out – in order to see this the way that I do, you must accept the court’s ruling that Proposition 8 was a Constitutional amendment, not a revision.  For those of you unaware with California law, a Constitutional amendment can be passed through an initiative process, where the citizens vote on it as a whole.  If it would have been a revision, it would have had to go through a longer process, and would not have been placed on the November 2008 ballot.  If it would have been ruled a revision, Prop. 8 would not have been legally placed on the ballot and would have been thrown out as a technicality, not because it violated Constitutional rights.  If you disagree with me/the Court on this, then we will never see eye to eye, and there’s no point arguing with each other.  You can see the Court’s opinion on ruling it as an amendment in section III of the opinion.

There were 3 challenges to Prop. 8: the first was that it was a Constitutional revision, not amendment.  The second was that it was a violation of the separation of powers.  The last was brought up by the Attorney General – that it violated the “inalienable rights” clause of the California Constitution.

The whole 185 page document can be found here, but I’d like to quickly highlight some key points of the court’s opinion:

 

 

 

Neither the language of the relevant constitutional provisions, nor our past cases, support the proposition that any of these rights [Constitutional rights] is totally exempt from modification by a constitutional amendment adopted by a majority of the voters through the initiative process.

 

 

 

Basically – Constitutional rights are only valid unless amended.

The Attorney General argued that “Proposition 8 should be invalidated even if it is deemed to amend the Constitution because it abrogates fundamental rights protected by article I without a compelling interest.”  To that, the Court said:

 

 

 

The Attorney General, in his briefing before this court, has advanced an alternative theory — not raised by petitioners in their initial petitions — under which he claims that even if Proposition 8 constitutes a constitutional amendment rather than a constitutional revision, that initiative measure nonetheless should be found invalid under the California Constitution on the ground that the “inalienable rights” embodied in article I, section 1 of that Constitution are not subject to “abrogation” by constitutional amendment without a compelling state interest. The Attorney General’s contention is flawed, however, in part because, likepetitioners’ claims, it rests inaccurately upon an overstatement of the effect of Proposition 8 on both the fundamental constitutional right of privacy guaranteed by article I, section 1, and on the due process and equal protection guarantees of article I, section 7. As explained below, Proposition 8 does not abrogate any of these state constitutional rights, but instead carves out a narrow exception applicable only to access to the
designation of the term “marriage,” but not to any other of “the core set of basic substantive legal rights and attributes traditionally associated with marriage . . .” (Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th at p. 781), such as the right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship with the person of one’s choice and to raise children within that family.

Same-sex couples retain all of the fundamental substantive components encompassed within the constitutional rights of privacy and due process, with the sole (albeit significant) exception of the right to equal access to the designation “marriage,” a term that — for purposes of the California Constitution as it now reads — the people have decreed is to be reserved for an official union between a man and a woman. Although Proposition 8 does diminish the rights of same-sex couples under article I, section 1 in this one respect, it does not have the sweeping constitutional effect suggested by the Attorney General’s argument.

Second, contrary to the implication of the Attorney General’s assertion, the circumstance that the rights listed in article I, section 1 — and in other sections of the Constitution — are identified as “inalienable” does not signify that such rights are totally exempt from any limitation or restriction.

Third, the “inalienable” nature of a constitutional right never has been understood to preclude the adoption of
a constitutional amendment that limits or restricts the scope or application of such a right. As noted above (ante, at p. 44, fn. 12), from the beginnings of our state constitutional history, the right of the people “to alter or reform” the provisions of the Constitution itself has been understood to constitute one of the fundamental rights to which article I, section 1 refers (see 1849 Debates, supra, pp. 33-34), and California’s 1849 Constitution enshrined this right as an integral part of the original Declaration of Rights in former article I, section 2, which provided: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.” (Italics added.)

a constitutional amendment that limits or restricts the scope or application of such a right. As noted above (ante, at p. 44, fn. 12), from the beginnings of our state constitutional history, the right of the people “to alter or reform” the provisions of the Constitution itself has been understood to constitute one of the fundamental rights to which article I, section 1 refers (see 1849 Debates, supra, pp. 33-34), and California’s 1849 Constitution enshrined this right as an integral part of the original Declaration of Rights in former article I, section 2, which provided: “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it.” (Italics added.)

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Again, similar to before – the court here basically says that instead of violating the Constitution, Prop. 8 amended the Constitution to make an exception of certain rights only in the situation of marriage.

And then we have the section where the Court says that the marriages already performed still stand:

 

 

 

Finally, we consider whether Proposition 8 affects the validity of the marriages of same-sex couples that were performed prior to the adoption of Proposition 8. Applying well-established legal principles pertinent to the question whether a constitutional provision should be interpreted to apply prospectively or retroactively, we conclude that the new section cannot properly be interpreted to apply retroactively. Accordingly, the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Proposition 8 remain valid and must continue to be recognized in this state.

 

 

 

Again, while I disagree with those marriages from a moral standpoint, I am glad that the court chose to uphold those marriages – it was the legally right thing to do.

The majority opinion ended with this:

 

 

 

In summary, we conclude that Proposition 8 constitutes a permissible constitutional amendment (rather than an impermissible constitutional revision), does not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and is not invalid under the “inalienable rights” theory proffered by the Attorney General. We further conclude that Proposition 8 does not apply retroactively and therefore that the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Proposition 8 remain valid.

Having determined that none of the constitutional challenges to the adoption of Proposition 8 have merit, we observe that if there is to be a change to the state constitutional rule embodied in that measure, it must “find its expression at the ballot box.”

 

 

 

Overall, I think this was a very legally sound opinion.  I couldn’t agree more with the way that the California high court ruled on this.  I see no way that the Court should have agreed with any of the 3 challenges, ESPECIALLY the challenges made by the Attorney General (someone who should have had a better legal mind than to make such blatantly dumb challenges, in my opinion).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Happy Memorial Day and the Story of a Gift to a Veteran

May 25, 2009

I just wanted to wish everybody a happy Memorial Day, like I do every year.  I would like to quickly thank all of our soldiers who are currently fighting overseas, as well as any veterans who have returned to this country after fighting.  But most importantly, I would like to thank those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  I truly appreciate what you did for me and every other person alive in America today.  Also, I would like to reach out to the families of those who have either lost someone in the military or even who have someone serving overseas now.  The loss of a family member is hard, but even the chance of losing a loved one is quite a strain on most people.

Again, this year I had to work (at least I’ll get paid a little extra) – the same place as the last 2 years – a local historical attraction.  And I have a little story that I wanted to share.

Today, I was working at the frozen custard stand, and I had maybe 25 people in my line.  A woman walked up and ordered some frozen custard and then handed me a $5 bill and said, “The man behind me is a Korean War veteran, and I want to use this to pay for part of his order, but I don’t want him to know about it.”  So, I took the money and when it came time for him to order, I pulled it out from beside my register and said, “Someone wanted to pay for your order because you served in Korea.”  So he said “Okay,” and looked at his wife, and they both showed off a smile of surprise and happiness.

And that right there is what days like today are all about.  Sure, parades and fireworks and bands playing battle hymns or the National Anthem are patriotic, and I’m sure the veterans and families of fallen heroes appreciate those things, but it’s things like paying for somebody’s meal because they were a veteran that really touch the hearts of those who have given so much.

So, go out and have your barbecues (although it may be a little late for some people now – at least on the East Coast), but I’d encourage you – the next time you see a veteran, do something nice for him or her.  In the least, go up to them and say, “Thank you for your service.”  I can tell you from what I’ve heard from friends of mine who are veterans – they appreciate it.  It means a whole lot more than people think it would.

Happy Memorial Day everybody – and make sure you drive safe!

Done Celebrating,

Ranting Republican

Former Fugitive Susan LeFevre Released from Michigan Prison

May 20, 2009

Yesterday, Susan LeFevre, a former Michigan prisoner turned escapee was released from prison.  In 1976 after serving 14 months of a of a 10-year prison sentence involving heroin (I’m pretty sure it was dealing heroin, but I’m not sure), she climbed a fence and escaped from Huron Valley Prison (south of Ann Arbor).  She then fled to California, where she met Alan Walsh, whom she married and had 3 children with.  Walsh never knew about her past until she was caught and brought back to Michigan last year.  When she went before a Wayne County judge, she said that escaping was a “terrible thing to do,” but she did it because she was only 21 at the time and was frightened by prison and other inmates.

In January, the Michigan Parole Board voted to release her from her sentence for the drug conviction, due to the fact that even though she had been living under an alias, she hadn’t committed any crimes after her escape (at least not that we know of).  The board decided to make her wait until Tuesday to be released because of misconduct in prison; however, her record has been spotless since January.  A judge has placed her on probation until May 2013, so she can’t drink alcohol, possess firearms, or associate with felons until then.

As she left, she held a press conference where she told reporters that prison is a “very tragic, hard place.”  She said that she relied on her family to get through the past year, saying, “It was just the most heartwarming experience — especially, I suppose, because I felt like it was so tragic for me, for sometimes thinking that I was facing many years locked in a prison.”  She spoke of her husband, as he stood by her side, saying, “If he can stick through a wife who comes up with these surprises, anybody can stay with a marriage.”

At the press conference, she went on to say, “I just felt that with that many people praying for me, this was going to end up good, and it has,” LeFevre said. “I’m back with my family and very anxious to resume my life and go back to being Marie. … I’m just delighted this nightmare is over.  It’s been very traumatic.  I didn’t think I’d make it at times.  I’m just a very lucky person.”

Personally, I think what happened yesterday was a travesty for the American justice system.  On the one hadn, I would feel bad forcing her to be separated from her family in order to serve the rest of her sentence, but on the other hand, what does this say to other prisoners?  Escape and be good and you can get off basically free.

My entire family disagrees with me on this one, but I just cannot justify letting her go.  When you commit a crime, you need to pay the consequences, and I think the parole board let their emotions get in the way here.

Just because she never got caught doing anything illegal doesn’t mean that she didn’t do anything illegal.  And even if she had a 100% perfect life and never even ran a stop sign after escaping from prison, she still needs to be kept in prison to finish out her sentence.  Where do we draw the line here?  If a murderer escapes but is good for the rest of his life should he have to go back to jail?  Most people would say yes, so what makes her different?  Just because she has a family doesn’t mean she should be treated differently.

A local TV station did a poll last night and 47% agreed with me, while 53% said she should go free, so I’m curious what you think.  Should she go free, or should shes serve out the rest of her sentence?

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Bristol Palin on Teen Pregnancy: “Learn from My Example”

May 6, 2009

Yesterday on NBC’s Today, Bristol Palin, the daughter of former VP candidate and Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) said something that I’ve been saying for a long time: “Abstinence is the only 100% foolproof way to prevent teen pregnancy.”  This comes after her comments on FOX News’s On the Record earlier this year when she said, “I think abstinence is, like — like, the — I don’t know how to put it — like, the main — everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all. … Because it’s [sex is] more and more accepted now.”

Go ahead and watch the full interview from the Today show, courtesy of MSNBC and NBC:

I agree with Bristol here.  Abstinence is the ONLY way to ensure that you don’t get pregnant.  It’s just that simple.  There is no other guaranteed way to avoid getting pregnant.  It’s just that simple.  But Bristol is right in what she said on FOX earlier this year – teens being sexually active is becoming more common and more accepted.  That doesn’t mean that this is an excuse for teens having sex.  In my opinion, it’s not that hard not to have sex.  Others may disagree, but there are plenty of people out there who will back me up in saying that saying, “No” isn’t as hard as some people would make you think it is.

Personally, I think that we need to emphasize abstinence as the only way to guarantee against pregnancy, but for teens who are sexually active, they need to use some sort of method of birth control.  Whether or not that will help, I don’t know.  I wouldn’t think that 16- and 17-year-olds would need to be taught about condoms and other forms of birth control – I think there’s enough mention of that in the media already, but apparently I’m wrong (either that or people just figure that they won’t get pregnant because “it won’t happen to me”).

I think Bristol’s story is a great testimony to other teens.  While some may view her as a hypocrite, I think many will view her as someone who went through a lot of hard times and doesn’t want to see other people go through what she went through.

As always, I wish Bristol and Tripp the very best, and to Bristol: good luck on sharing your story with other teens.  I hope people listen – God bless both of you and your family.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Former Congressman and Vice Presidential Candidate Jack Kemp Has Died

May 2, 2009

This is news that just came in – Jack Kemp, the former Republican Congressman from New York, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and the running mate for Bob Dole in the 1996 Presidential elections has died.

The details of Representative Kemp’s death have not yet been released; however, he had been battling cancer.

Kemp was a great conservative.  He, like myself, was a libertarian-leaning Republican.  He was strong in his opposition to abortion, and he was a great economic conservative, two areas that have always been really important to me politically.

I just wanted to pay a little tribute to Mr. Kemp.

To his friends and family: my thoughts and prayers are with you.  Jack was a great man, and may he rest in peace.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican


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