If California didn’t exist, some wicked parodist would have to invent it. I have always loved those little labels on various cosmetics, food stuffs, and children’s toys advising the public that said item “is known to the state of California” to cause cancer, rickets, or whatever. A long, lazy afternoon might be spent pondering the onion-like mendacity of the word “known” on those labels. What it really means is something closer to “asserted without evidence.” But there haven’t been many long, lazy afternoons lately. Besides, California is a state that keeps the rest of us on our toes. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which presides over California, Hawaii, and other Western fastnesses, is a reliable source of loony-left judgments on matters ranging from the Pledge of Allegiance (the judges find the phrase “under God” deeply upsetting) to the Patriot Act (they don’t like that, either).
Now we have the California Supreme Court weighing in on the subject of marriage. My dictionary defines “marriage” as “the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife.” Probably, yours does, too. Perhaps the California Supreme Court’s next trick will be to confiscate those antiquated documents and supply everyone with updated, politically correct reference works. In any event, on Thursday, the Court overruled, 4 votes to 3, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. There is a lot that could be said about this decision. Depending on where you stand on the issue of so-called “gay marriage” you might be tempted to applaud or decry the ruling. But I believe that, quite apart from the specific issue of how we should define “marriage,” anyone who cares about democratic rule and the separation of powers should be profoundly disturbed by California’s ruling. Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a vocal opponent of “gay marriage,” got to the nub of the issue in one of his “end-of-day” email reflections:
The ruling, by four unelected robed radicals, invalidated the overwhelming majority opinion of California’s citizens, who voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It was an egregious exercise in judicial activism – of judges wielding raw political power to redefine our most basic values. But that is how the Left has succeeded. It cannot achieve its goals through the democratic process via the elected legislatures, so it ignores the people and goes to the courts, where it relies on political activists cloaked in black who answer to no one. The Left succeeds by using the most undemocratic methods possible.
I would like to think that Bauer’s point would resonate with thinking people across the political spectrum. Today’s hot-button issue is the definition of marriage. Tomorrow’s issue will revolve around some other controversy. The overarching question is how we will decide: lawfully, through established legislative procedures? Or by judicial fiat, investing the power to determine how we live in the hands of a few unelected, and essentially unaccountable, individuals?