Activist Judges Back Gay Marriage

Here’s some trivia to have on hand should you hear conservatives attack Democratic activist judges for court rulings supporting same-sex marriage. Following today’s Supreme Court decision in Iowa (previous post), Andrew Sullivan points out that several of the “activist judges” in states where the court ruled for marriage equality were appointed by Republicans.  This includes Mark Cady who wrote the Iowa opinion.

Massachusetts (Goodridge, 2003) Margaret Marshall, appointed by Chief Justice Gov. Weld (R) in 1996, elevated to Chief by Gov. Cellucci (R);

in 1999 California (In re Marriage Cases, 2008) Ronald George, Chief Justice appointed by Gov. Wilson (R) in 1991, elevated to Chief by Gov. Wilson (R);

in 1996 Connecticut (Kerrigan, 2008) Richard Palmer, Associate Justice appointed by Gov. Weicker (Ind.); in 1993 — Note that Weicker was a Republican during his time in the House and Senate. He won the governorship as an independent.

And today, in Iowa (Varnum, 2009) Mark Cady, Associate Justice, appointed by Gov. Branstad (R) in 1998.

Via Sullivan’s trackbacks I also note that Good As You reports out that “The chief justice of the court, Marsha Ternus, was also a Brandstad appointee.”

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    The notion of ‘judicial activism’ is relatively new. For the majority of this country’s history, at least from John Marshall’s tenure, the Supreme Court’s legitimate authority to interpret the Constitution has been recognized. Strict contructionists were more focused on legislation than judicial review.

    ‘Judicial activism’ came into vogue after Roe v. Wade, as religious conservatives became more powerful in the Republican Party. It is ironic that noting state mandated theological law is unconstitutional is labeled as somehow out of the constitutional purvue of judges, despite the clear guarantee of the first amendment.

  2. 2
    Vince says:

    Leave it to Vermont and Iowa to be the most progressive states in the nation, shame on us here in California for passing Prop 9.  Whether you call it Gay Marriage or Civil Union, the basic premise is that every person should have equal rights.  It’s good to see that some states are progressing, I made a list on my site of the states I think will legalize Gay Marriage first: http://www.toptentopten.com/topten/first+states+that+will+legalize+gay+marriage

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    The difference is that California has an initiative process, so that voters can overturn judicial and legislative decisions, whereas Vermont and Iowa do not (except that the legislature can send an issue to popular vote).  This prevents them from having a vote on the matter.

    You can make up your own mind whether the lack of citizen control over the government is a good or a bad thing.  Yeah, yeah, “vote the suckers out”, but we all know that most districts are safe for the incumbent.

  4. 4
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Districts are not safe for the incumbent because of inherent flaws in the system that prevent dissatisfied constituents from ‘voting the bastards out.’ Districts are safe for the incumbents because of the sad fact that the majority of the American voting public is apathetic and disengaged and the majority of people who vote do so either from die-hard partisanship or because they think think they should, and in neither case do they study the issues (certainly not from both sides) and make truly informed choices. We can make legitimate arguments about redistricting to protect the party in power, or about redistricting to protect incumbents generally, but even this would not be possible without voter consent. California and other states with ballot initiative laws are a good example, voters could write and pass a ballot initiative blocking partisan redistricting, but this does not happen. Even this ‘democratic’ process is controlled by party activists and initiatives are sold by marketing. Most voters do not even understand the initiatives on which they vote.

    There is, perhaps, an elitist tinge to my complaint… but it is still more accurate than not. American citizens are not fulfilling their part in the democratic process… they are not becoming educated, responsible voters. Part of this is not their fault, people have to work and not all employers are willing to make arrangements for employees to vote (even though it is required by law), but a great deal of it is.

    It is interesting to note that polls show most people in California, before and after the passage of Prop 8, were in favor of some form of gay marriage rights. The biggest factor in the passing of the initiative was because many of the religious voters had a false belief that churches would be legally forced to perform religious marriages for gay couples, one deliberately instilled by the Yes on 8 campaign. The No on 8 campaign failed to properly address this fear, despite its absolute lack of basis in fact. Some polls even suggest that people who voted FOR Pro 8 now support its repeal.

    There is no perfect system which will give us true democratic utopia, direct democracy and representative democracy are equally open to manipulation and gaming by corruption and deception. Jefferson was wrong, democracy does not bestow divine inspiration upon the voters.

    I am a republican, in that I believe representative democracy allows elected and appointed officials to gain the kind of familiarity with laws and lawmaking necessary to govern. Popular does not always mean ‘right’ and unpopular does not always mean ‘wrong.’

    I am a democrat, in that I believe that removing universal citizen suffrage from the equation is unacceptable.

  5. 5
    fubar II says:

    Maybe….just maybe…..ALL politicians are lying most of the time to get elected then only catering to their “special interest groups who have most of the money?

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