Reaction to Prop 8 Decision (Analysis to Follow)
The California Supreme Court just dropped the bomb whose ticking has been growing louder over the past few months. By a 6-1 decision (with Justice Moreno in lonely dissent), the court decided that Prop 8, the ballot initiative that revoked the right of same-sex couples to marry, was a valid amendment to the state’s constitution. The decision was widely (if not universally) expected, as was the court’s other (unanimous) holding, finding that 18,000 or so marriages that took place last year before remain valid. I’ll soon have an analysis of the ruling especially intended to be useful to non-lawyers.
While I’m still trying to get a copy of the decision, I can’t help reacting.
I had expected to feel maybe a second-level order of disappointment. After all, the biggest blow was the decision of California voters to remove, by constitutional amendment, a fundamental right that the court had so eloquently and persuasively articulated. And the court would be facing enormous pressure to support “the will of the people,” a point that was made, repeatedly, during oral argument in March.
Yet I’m overcome by a profound sense of grief. The courts are supposed to be on the side of justice and protection of the rights of minorities. This time, the California Supreme Court — admittedly with precedential justification — blinked. And I’m reminded again that people get to vote on my rights. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that, or be able to regard these kinds of setbacks as “second-level disappointments.” Well, back to the political process — like it, or not.
Update: I’ve now slogged through all 150 pages of the majority and the two concurring opinions. I’ll post my “legal analysis for the layperson” shortly.