Home > Uncategorized > Jerry Brown Strikes Back

Jerry Brown Strikes Back

Here’s the opening few paragraphs from Saturday morning’s LA Times. Jerry Brown, our next governor of California, has opted to keep the fight going for gays and lesbians in this state. Here’s what he did:

“California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to invalidate the voter-approved ban on gay marriage, declaring that “the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification.”

Brown’s argument on Proposition 8, contained in an 111-page brief filed at the last possible moment before the court’s deadline, surprised many legal experts. The attorney general has a legal duty to uphold the state’s laws as long as there are reasonable grounds to do so. Last month, Brown said he planned to “defend the proposition as enacted by the people of California.”

But in his filing, Brown, who personally supports same-sex marriage, offered a novel legal theory to back his argument that the measure should be invalidated.

The California Constitution protects certain rights as “inalienable,” Brown wrote. Those include a right to liberty and to privacy, which the courts have said includes a person’s right to marry.

The issue before the court “presents a conflict between the constitutional power of the voters to amend the Constitution, on the one hand, and the Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, on the other,” Brown wrote.

The issue “is whether rights secured under the state Constitution’s safeguard of liberty as an ‘inalienable’ right may intentionally be withdrawn from a class of persons by an initiative amendment.”

Voters are allowed to amend other parts of the Constitution by majority vote, but to use the ballot box to take away an “inalienable” right would establish a “tyranny of the majority,” which the Constitution was designed, in part, to prevent, he wrote.

In an interview, Brown said he had developed his theory after weeks of consultation with the top lawyers in his office. “This analysis was not evident on the morning after the election,” he said.”

I wish I had known about this tonight when we had Rick Jacobs from the Courage Campaign on the show to discuss the Barack Obama flap over his invitation to evangelical pastor Rick Warner to deliver the invocation at his January swearing-in. Like Rick, I wish Obama had found a different speaker, but what’s done is done. Check out http://www.couragecampaign.org for more details.

But whether it’s Jerry Brown or Rick Jacobs, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s pretty clear by now that Californians are simply not going to let Prop 8 stand. We are California, after all. We lead the nation when it comes to issues like this. We are not a state that takes away civil rights. Rick Jacobs was very eloquent tonight on the show and I invite you to listen to the podcast if you missed the 5:05 segment.

So good to have Jerry Brown back in the fight. It will be interesting to see what the California Supreme Court decides to do.

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