Activist Judges?

The right wingers heads are about to explode on this issue.  Go on over to the Flash Report and read this statement from Rep. Mike Villines who obviously doesn’t know the partisan make up of the State Supreme Court  (that would be 6 Republicans to 1 Democrat) and this from a party leader!

Please ignore Jon Fleischman’s insult of calling us the “looney left.”  And this story calls the court “activist judges.”  Six of the seven are Republicans and the California Supreme Court is considered moderate to conservative. 

Matt Cunningham rails against the decision over at Red County.  The quote: “Well, who needs the Legislature and the initiative process when we have Chief Swami Ronald George and his merry band to wave away the entire deposit of Western civilization as regards marriage and decide for the rest of us what the civil definition of marriage shall be?”

I will remind Matt that 60 years ago, Western civilization was clearly against mixed-race marriages.  It took Loving vs. Virginia 40 years ago to overturn constitutional bans on interracial marriages.  Without that decision, Shawn Steel couldn’t marry Michelle Steel; Mike Schroeder couldn’t marry Susan Schroeder; and Matt Cunningham would not have been able to marry Mrs. Jubal, his Mexican wife (as he sometimes refers to her). Janet Nguyen and her Polish husband; nyet.

So bring on those court challenges, the really silly ones advocated by Chuck DeVore that predicts Fathers will marry daughters and sons will marry Mothers all in hopes of avoiding the estate tax.  Where’s Jim Bieber with his arguments for allowing brothers to marry?

Today is a great day for personal liberty, equal rights and freedom. 

  31 comments for “Activist Judges?

  1. May 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Yes because you know the electorate has never been wrong before about a vote (Eye roll).

  2. OCDemoGrl
    May 15, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I was disgusted when the Red County hacks were comparing gay marriage to beastiality and animals. Funny, I thought we were are all human and everyone deserves equal rights. Matt only believes in equal rights when it involves his own opinion…Very sad.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    May 15, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I will delete any post that refers to Matt Cunningham in a derogatory manner. No names. Be respectful in debate please.

  4. May 15, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Definition: Activist Judge – a judge who makes a decision with which I (the speaker using the term) disagree.

    Example as used in a sentence: Scalia and Thomas, in Bush v. Gore, are Activist Judges.

  5. May 15, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    And on top of this, Congress has just voted to cut off war funding!? What happened, did America get up on the right side of the bed this morning? OK, I’m off to my own blog….

  6. May 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    If the electorate and/or majority were always right, you’d still have segregation (at least!) in a lot of southern states. Civil rights on divisive issues are one of the fantastic things courts need to rule on.

  7. May 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I will remind Matt that 40 years ago, Western civilization was clearly against mixed-race marriages.

    That is an absurd, gross oversimplification, Dan — and beside the point, to boot..

  8. matt's evil
    May 15, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    cunningham prefers to defend pedophile protectors instead of gay couples looking to get married–sick.

  9. Dan Chmielewski
    May 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I need to amend that; 60 years ago, it would have been illegal for a white man to marry a Mexican woman. Perez vs Sharp case, 1948. The point is marriage keeps changing.

  10. Claudio Gallegos
    May 15, 2008 at 5:44 pm


    Actually the case was a Hispanic woman who wanted to marry an African-American man in California. African Americans and Asians were forbidden to marry Whites. Hispanics were actually considered “white.”

    Just as there was a stir among the Right now with this decision, the conservative bigots were just as up in arms at the thought that the court would allow Blacks and Whites to marry. That is the nature of conservative thought, to hate what is different than their world view. Not speculation, just the facts.

  11. May 15, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Labeling someone “evil” because they don’t agree moves the conversation nowhere. Matt is entitlted to his opinion but it won’t be very long before he’s in a much smaller minority who believe that gay marriage is something worth fighting against.

    I mean hell, I’m waiting for Republicans to go back to getting out of people’s personal lives, like that is going to happen. Just because dear friends of mine who are the same sex want to share their lives together in the form of some kind of union or marriage does not mean the end of straight marriage, that’s been going the way of the dodo long beore gay marriage was even a posibility.

    I think it would be a lot more helpful if people would spend more time keeping their own marriages together rather than worrying about who anyone else marries. Republicans get divorced too.

  12. Dan Chmielewski
    May 15, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    So just how many signatures does the California Marriage Protection Act have? Villines said a million; Mimi says 1.5 million. Doees anyone know?

    So where are all these strict Constitutionalists on the Right now?

  13. May 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    That is the nature of conservative thought, to hate what is different than their world view. Not speculation, just the facts.

    You mean, like the way you are characterizing conservatives?

  14. Matthew T
    May 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    In the Nordic countries where marriage has been extended to include same sex couples, marriage has not degenerated. I have heard some info that suggests that the rate of opposite sex marriage has actually increased. In Massachusetts, marriages have not fallen apart. In fact, it still holds the record for the lowest rate of divorce. Marriage, at its base, is a legal contract that causes two adults to be seen as a single legal entity in the eyes of the state. If your views are affected by your religious or spiritual outlook against same sex marriage, then you have nothing to worry about, the sacrament of matrimony is not touched by this. You can still attend a church that does not allow same sex matrimony. God bless the seperation of church and state.
    If people actually think that their marriage is weakend, or that someone will be forced to enter into a same sex union aginst their will, I would really like that to be proven.
    One of the complaints about same sex relationships I have heard throughout my life is that they are not stable like an opposite sex marriage. Well, how could they be if the right to marry has always been denied? Do people realy fear that marriage is threatend, or do they faer that same sex couples will actually prove that their relationships are just as strong? I truly believe that as time goes on, and both types of marriages are tracked, the most terrifying revelation will be that there is no statistical difference between same sex and opposite sex marriages.
    For those who want to ammend any constitution to deny rights, do you really want to ope that pandora’s box, espicially when it could just as easily effect you?
    Lastly, The Supreme Court’s (State or Federal) job is to judge the constitutionality of the law. This ruling was based off of a case whose premise was that a party’s constitutional rights were being violated. Because of this, the court did have the right to hear it. Now ask youselves this, ‘When the courts rule in a way that I agree with, are the judges “activist judges?” If you really look at the rulings and really think about all of their ramifications, you might be surprised at what you find. We have judges for their view of the law. Some think that the law is there to punish the individual/society, some think that the law is there to protect the individual/society. We can’t escape it, and we won’t agree with every ruling, but we are a country founded on the liberal views of the renaissance, and that means that our most important aspect is our freedoms and liberties. Please do not attempt to take them away, and don’t villify those who fight to protect and expand them. That is what we are ment to do.
    Thank you

  15. Joey
    May 15, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Heather ,

    Actually, Matt is not in the minority opinion in reagrds to gay marraige.


    I like your reasoning, so if the Voter vote overwhemingly for the California marraige protection act those are considered activist voters.

  16. Joey
    May 15, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Wll this be the wedge issue that drives voters to elect McCain over Obama.

  17. Chuck DeVore
    May 16, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Dan, I suggest you actually READ the Court’s ruling as I have. You’ll then see that the Court’s ruling is breathtaking for its overreach.

    Using words like “dignity” (23 times), “liberty” (34 times), and “privacy” (37 times) to describe same sex partners full right to marry, the Court overturned millennia of experience and more than 150 years of state law precedence. (For the ruling, see: In so doing, their strained justifications threw the door wide open to polygamous and incestuous marriage. How? By using the flawed logic that marriage is none of the government’s business insofar as marriage should be afforded to all to afford people privacy, liberty and dignity. The same weak logic can be applied to the “plural” marriages of the Fundamentalist LDS cult in Texas or to a devout Muslim citizen of Saudi Arabia who wishes to emigrate to California with his four wives. In fact, due to the equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, both a Fundamentalist LDS cult member and a devout Muslim could argue that their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion are being violated by any restriction on polygamy – after all, their “dignity,” “liberty,” and “privacy” would be violated otherwise.

    Such flawed logic cannot restrict polygamy — or do you think that Muslims and FLDS folks have that right?

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    California State Assemblyman, 70th District

  18. Dan Chmielewski
    May 16, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Chuck — I have read it and you’re cherry-picking — and you know it.

    I’m out of pocket most o the day but will respond later. You’ve fallen on the side of those who don’t believe in personal freedom, liberty and equal rights.

    Why not just roll back to the 40s when mixed race marriages weren’t allowed either?

  19. Dan Chmielewski
    May 16, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Hey LibOC Team — since I am out of pocket until late afternoon, does anyone else want to chime in on Chuck’s comment here?

  20. Dan Chmielewski
    May 16, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Chuck — per your claim of a millennia of experience, I submit this NY Times article that you must have missed.

    November 26, 2007
    Taking Marriage Private
    Olympia, Wash.
    WHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity.
    For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.
    In 1215, the church decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church. But people who married illictly had the same rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate; the wife had the same inheritance rights; the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.
    Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.
    The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.
    By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos. Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.
    In the mid-20th century, governments began to get out of the business of deciding which couples were “fit” to marry. Courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage, struck down other barriers and even extended marriage rights to prisoners.
    But governments began relying on marriage licenses for a new purpose: as a way of distributing resources to dependents. The Social Security Act provided survivors’ benefits with proof of marriage. Employers used marital status to determine whether they would provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information.
    In the 1950s, using the marriage license as a shorthand way to distribute benefits and legal privileges made some sense because almost all adults were married. Cohabitation and single parenthood by choice were very rare.
    Today, however, possession of a marriage license tells us little about people’s interpersonal responsibilities. Half of all Americans aged 25 to 29 are unmarried, and many of them already have incurred obligations as partners, parents or both. Almost 40 percent of America’s children are born to unmarried parents. Meanwhile, many legally married people are in remarriages where their obligations are spread among several households.
    Using the existence of a marriage license to determine when the state should protect interpersonal relationships is increasingly impractical. Society has already recognized this when it comes to children, who can no longer be denied inheritance rights, parental support or legal standing because their parents are not married.
    As Nancy Polikoff, an American University law professor, argues, the marriage license no longer draws reasonable dividing lines regarding which adult obligations and rights merit state protection. A woman married to a man for just nine months gets Social Security survivor’s benefits when he dies. But a woman living for 19 years with a man to whom she isn’t married is left without government support, even if her presence helped him hold down a full-time job and pay Social Security taxes. A newly married wife or husband can take leave from work to care for a spouse, or sue for a partner’s wrongful death. But unmarried couples typically cannot, no matter how long they have pooled their resources and how faithfully they have kept their commitments.
    Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep — who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.
    Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples — gay or straight — decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.
    Stephanie Coontz, a professor of history at Evergreen State College, is the author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”

  21. OCDemoGrl
    May 16, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Sure. Chuck believes in discriminating against those who don’t believe in what he does. Why don’t you want gay couple’s who have been in long-term relationships to be happy? They celebrate commitment, family, love and God. And considering only 1 in 2 opposite marriages end in divorce, the LGBT community will appreciate it more and value it years to come.

    Chuck, will it make you personally happy to see these people, these humans, these taxpayers, these soccer moms and dads, these wonderful constituents unhappy? You address the court decision, but you don’t address gay people whom this effects. IT ISN’T ABOUT YOU AT ALL. Almost like you don’t want them to exist.

    All the best,
    Proud to support gay marriage!

  22. May 16, 2008 at 9:49 am

    CLAUDIO: That is the nature of conservative thought, to hate what is different than their world view. Not speculation, just the facts.

    JUBAL: You mean, like the way you are characterizing conservatives?

    OOOH, and the Servite grad pulls out the old “I know you are but what am I?” retort! That was junior year logic or senior year rhetoric?

    I wouldn’t tar the whole conservative label though Claudio, I think you and I are conservative in a lot of ways. I would have said “contemporary Republicans.”

  23. Duhhhh
    May 16, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    The makeup of the Massachusetts supreme court was the same (six Republican appointed moderate or conservative judges and one judge appointed by a Democrat governor). Despite this there was still many speeches/propaganda campaigns about “liberal activist judges” from the GOP when Massachusetts allowed gay marriage.

  24. RHackett
    May 16, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    When a conservative (like Fleischman) defines a judge as an activist, take great solace in knowing the criticism usually means a judge who has actually read the constitution and is interpreting in accordance with the liberty conservatives claim to desire.

    I’ve learned since his days with the OCSD that Jon is a great contra indicator. If I were an elected I would sit in terror that Jon might refer to me as a “honest” individual. That would be my cue to hire counsel for the impending federal indictment.

  25. May 16, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t think anyone can do better debunking Devore, Jubal, and the other rightwingers unhappy with this ruling than Glenn Greenwald

    I don’t expect them to click that link, but for the rest of you, plenty of ammo there.

  26. Carl Weibel
    May 16, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    The right wing never ceases to amaze me and sicken me with their reactions to issues such as this one. I was actually a fairly moderate “swing voter” 5 years ago, but the right wing’s reaction to the Lawrence v. Texas decision was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me the hardcore liberal that I am today.

    What I’ve noticed about this issue is that the supporters of same-sex marriage rights use logic and reason, while the right wing relies on emotion and hysteria. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the past, bigotry and fear seem to do pretty well at the polls. Hopefully in November, the more reasonable voters will prevail for once.

  27. Dan Chmielewski
    May 16, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I’m back. First thing I want to make clear to Mr. DeVore is that I read the full court decision. Where he sees flawed logic and a new slippery slope, I see equal rights, personal frredom and liberty now applied to all citizens of California. (Forgive my typos-i’m on a Blackberry writing this as I put my daughter to sleep)

    I will remind Chuck as a member of our legislature, he is sworn to uphold the constitution of California. And for Chuck’s claims of flawed logic, well, it was flawed logic of a conservative Republican majority of Justices.

    Chuck’s examples of parents marrying children for tax advantages shows the depths by which the Right is willing to go to openly discriminate against a broad cross section of people. I encourage those gay and lesbian couples living in Chuck4 assembly district to contact his office and express gratitude for the court’s decision. Ask him to not support a change to our constitution. He is elected to respresent us. I have to believe he will respond to calls from voters in his district

  28. May 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    From the last paragraph of the SacBee’s Dan Walter’s column today at: It looks like I’m not the only one who sees legalized polygamy in our future as a result of this poorly-decided ruling.

    “Finally, declaring that one is free to marry whomever one chooses makes it at least conceivable that plural marriages – polygamy – could be equally valid. How’s that for a can of worms?”

    All the best,

    Chuck DeVore
    California State Assemblyman, 70th District

  29. Dan Chmielewski
    May 18, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    so what did your daughter say when you proposed to her so she could save a few bucks on the estate tax? After saying ick over 20 times, I have to guess its an answer that she’s like to marry a man like you. But. not. you.

    Keep grasping at straws here with the conservative columnists; it doesn’t make you right.

    Lastly, go you *have* friends who are gay? True friends? Wonder what they must think of your silly micro-scenario situations used to justify banning gay marriage. How about bans on Republican marriage? Or bans on Irish marriage?; or bans on elder marriage?

  30. Dan Chmielewski
    May 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Did you read his full column Chuck? He also writes that overturning the gay marriage ban was the right decision.

  31. May 19, 2008 at 7:31 am


    You do realize that making polygamy legal would require a different set of laws since there would be more than two people involved in the legal contract of marrage? It is not the same and there is no slippery slope. Which spouse would have say over medical decisions? How would property be split. It requires something completely different.

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