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Posted by gustav at 03:01AM, Thursday, December 04th, 2008

Proposition 8: The End of Liberty in California

It sounds increasingly as though the California Supreme Court will rule to let Proposition 8 stand. If this happens, it will mark the end of civil rights in the state. What this potential ruling means is that privileges of any group are not protected by a framework of rights -- for there are no longer any inalienable rights in California. Privileges like marriage, liberty, and freedom of speech are simply at the whim of a bare majority.

It strikes me as unlikely that this ruling should have happened, had the rights in question not been those of gays and lesbians. Regardless, this will now be a terrifying precedent -- a weapon in the arsenal of those who wish to erode the rights of unpopular minorities of all kinds, and those on the right who wish to see the courts crumble entirely. I don't see why the next step wouldn't be to change the constitution to make it a criminal offense to criticize President Obama, or the Governor; or to criminalize membership in an unpopular church -- say, to criminalize Judaism or the practice of Islam; or to hold a job, or own property, as a married woman; or to fail to attend a Christian church every Sunday. Without inalienable rights, there can be no constitutional law as we've known it, because the constitution no longer lays out principles that it is the court's duty to interpret. There are merely privileges spelled out in amendments, granted or revoked at the whim of the majority.

Protecting minorities against the tyranny of the majority was one of the basic tenets of the U.S. Constitution that Jefferson et al set up. It is the basic reason we have a tripartite government at all. Why have representatives, why have courts rule on cases of discrimination or infringement of rights, when you want unfiltered majority rule? It sounds "democratic," but looking back on the last eight years, imagine the travesties (even worse than those we saw) that might have been committed with the approval of the law: criminalizing any dissent to the war in Iraq, and incarcerating or disappearing protestors.

California shall become a land where the law offers no protection whatsoever for minorities. We will see mob rule in its basest and ugliest form, instituted based on a campaign of bald lies about the history of marriage, funded by an out-of-state-based religious cult.

Welcome to the 21st Century.
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