the bench

Even California’s Supreme Court Chief Hates How Prop 8 Got Passed


Rest assured, you’re not the only one who finds it appalling that a some well organized fundraising by the Mormon Church can strip California’s gays of their marriage rights. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George — who ruled to uphold Proposition 8 — thinks so too.

By allowing voters to decide almost anything by referendum, the populous has “rendered our state government dysfunctional,” George said during a speech at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Massachusetts on Saturday. If you’re unfamiliar with how things work in the Golden State, it goes like this: voters have the final say on just about everything. That’s good for democracy, right? Not always, like in this example, which proves voters with the best intentions act like idiots. (Lawmakers also like to blame voters for the current unfixable budget deficit; voters won’t approve new taxes to increase spending, meaning services get cut, state employees get furloughs, and voters owed income tax returns get IOUs.) LAT:

George, a moderate Republican, has been critical of the initiative process in the past, but his remarks to the national group signaled a sense of urgency and willingness to push for reforms.

George noted that in November, voters passed initiatives to regulate the confinement of fowl in coops and passed Proposition 8, which overturned part of a California Supreme Court ruling that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry.

“Chickens gained valuable rights in California on the same day that gay men and lesbians lost them,” George said.

George was the swing vote in the historic May 2008 decision to end a ban on same-sex marriage. Legal scholars said the 4-3 ruling he wrote would define his legacy.

And it’s not just that California’s way of doing things makes being gay in the state a terrible thing. It makes his job harder, too.

“The court over which I preside frequently is called upon to resolve legal challenges to voter initiatives,” George said in his speech. “Needless to say, we incur the displeasure of the voting public when, in the course of performing our constitutional duties as judges, we are compelled to invalidate such a measure.”