Friday, March 6, 2009

No rights are inalienable!

In yesterday's court case, advocating to uphold Prop8, Kenneth Starr argued that there are no inalienable rights for Californians. Under his argument, he admitted that free speech, racial discrimination, (presumably even voting rights themselves) under the California constitution are subject to a simple majority vote, without any legislative process at all.

Sadly, Justice Kennard seemed to agree, and in her comments apparently felt that the inalienable right of the majority to be foolish at the ballot box trumps what the court previously found to be "a basic civil or human right of all people."

If Prop8 is upheld, as commenters expect, it is really a breathtaking precedent. WE HAVE NO RIGHTS that are safe from the rule of the mob, the tyranny of the majority.

Think of what this will unleash: a series of amendment initiatives in CA to deprive gays of any protections at all. Don't expect domestic partnerships to survive.

And not just gays: any unpopular class, like immigrants, may also be at risk. Just wait till the MInutemen get going and start buying signatures. They can do it, if the Supremes uphold this decision. Religious affiliation and red hair, equally at risk.

The US State Department book "Principles of Democracy" states explicitly
Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual.

Such an ideal may not apply in California. Better dust off your pink triangles, folks, we might all be moving to Manzanar next.

Cross posted at DailyKos and TPM


Cany said...

the interesting thing, IT, is that there are not that many rights that are fruit for what Starr and Kennard seem to view as vulnerable.

Federal rights--those held in the constitution--are NOT vulnerable. The problem is that lgbt folks are not a federally protected class. Odd, but true.

We could not, for instance, ban the LDS religion. We could ban their 'marriages' or, I suppose, grant that they only have domestic partnership rights in CA if passed on the CA ballot.

There are just SO many things wrong with this (starting with the CA Constitution and ending up with Starr's take) that someone could and might write a book about it.

Fred Schwartz said...

Between Kenneth Starr and Karl Rove I am appalled. Can we all please go back at study John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, perhaps as a refresher course. If the court buys into that insanity we are doomed as a state and as a country.

TheraP said...

IT, you will love these words of Hillary Clinton today at a European town hall meeting, to a young gay activist:

"Human rights are the inalienable right of every person no matter who that person loves," Clinton said, adding that attacks on gays and lesbians were not only occurring on a worrying scale, but were being "condoned and protected".

I've put up a blog, linking to yours, with that quote and a few more words here:

That should keep this issue and your blog alive for longer. :)

Grandmère Mimi said...

And I thought (and hoped) that we had seen the last of Ken Starr on the national stage. Alas! It was not to be.

TheraP, nice words from HC.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, TheraP.

Apparently we as a country "stand for" things abroad that we do not allow at home.


PseudoPiskie said...

Go vote in Vermont's poll here.

Anonymous said...

What do you want to bet that Ken Starr has some interesting personal history?