PSA: ACLU, Other Groups File Suit Against Proposition 8

by matttbastard

ACLU/Lambda/NCLR press release:

Legal Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Proposition 8, Should It Pass (11/5/2008)

Legal Papers Claim Initiative Procedure Cannot Be Used To Undermine the Constitution’s Core Commitment To Equality For Everyone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

SAN FRANCISCO – The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a writ petition before the California Supreme Court today urging the court to invalidate Proposition 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.

The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works. Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn’t happen with Proposition 8, and that’s why it’s invalid.

“If the voters approved an initiative that took the right to free speech away from women, but not from men, everyone would agree that such a measure conflicts with the basic ideals of equality enshrined in our constitution. Proposition 8 suffers from the same flaw – it removes a protected constitutional right – here, the right to marry – not from all Californians, but just from one group of us,” said Jenny Pizer, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal. “That’s too big a change in the principles of our constitution to be made just by a bare majority of voters.”

“A major purpose of the constitution is to protect minorities from majorities. Because changing that principle is a fundamental change to the organizing principles of the constitution itself, only the legislature can initiate such revisions to the constitution,” added Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.

The groups filed the lawsuit today in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California and 6 same-sex couples who did not marry before Tuesday’s election but would like to be able to marry now.

The groups filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court before the elections presenting similar arguments because they believed the initiative should not have appeared on the ballot, but the court dismissed that petition without addressing its merits. That earlier order is not precedent here.

“Historically, courts are reluctant to get involved in disputes if they can avoid doing so,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. “It is not uncommon for the court to wait to see what happens at the polls before considering these legal arguments. However, now that Proposition 8 may pass, the courts will have to weigh in and we believe they will agree that Proposition 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.”

This would not be the first time the court has struck down an improper voter initiative. In 1990, the court stuck down an initiative that would have added a provision to the California Constitution stating that the “Constitution shall not be construed by the courts to afford greater rights to criminal defendants than those afforded by the Constitution of the United States.” That measure was invalid because it improperly attempted to strip California’s courts of their role as independent interpreters of the state’s constitution.

In a statement issued earlier today, the groups stated their conviction, which is shared by the California Attorney General, that the state must continue to honor the marriages of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who have already married in California. A copy of the statement as well as the writ petition filed today is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt, www.lambdalegal.org, and www.nclrights.org.

In addition to the ACLU, Lambda Legal and NCLR, the legal team bringing the writ also includes the Law Office of David C. Codell; Munger Tolles & Olson, LLP; and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

h/t DKos (by way of pale via IM).

More from Digby (h/t Paul the Spud) , Faith @ Shakesville, Ta-Nehisi Coates (h/t Sebastian) Amp, Mandolin, The Girl Detective, Jeff Fecke, Thomas @ Feministe, VivirLatino, Kyle @ Right Wing Watch, Bil Browning, Darkrose and Pam Spaulding

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Open Letter Re: Personality Cults

by matttbastard

Via Alison @ The BeavPSA can suck my ass:

I’ve not had much to say in the last few weeks because my lack of faith in the Obama juggernaut has been, it appears, heretical. I’ve not been feeling too welcome or encouraged to share my opinion. So a few snips aside, I’ve kept to myself. And fair enough, I understand that after the long years of George Bush, anything that isn’t a complete waste of skin will seem like a glorious leader. But I just can’t get over the disconnect of people in one breath hailing the conquering hero and appending their gushes of praise by noting that in reality Obama lies somewhere to the right of Steve Harper on the political spectrum. Hello? Anyone in there?

The grand transformation that is sweeping America this electoral season comes down to the ability of a black candidate to be seen as electable. Alas, in the year 2008 that is the great American step forward and it speaks volumes about the hidebound ignorance and undercurrents of racism that still underpin much of America. Both Islamic Pakistan and mostly Hindu India have had women as heads of state. America’s great achievement and signal of progress is that one of their parties was willing to put forward either a woman or a black man as Presidential candidate. Forgive me not joining in the rapturous applause at the sight of the world’s most well armed nation reluctantly joining the modern world.

Ok, look. I’m not going to let some fucking lefter-than-thou litmus test be used as a cruel means to piss on the joy–the absolute, unfettered joy–that my friends in the US, many of whom now living in blue states for the first time in their lives, are reveling in. This is bigger than a mere ‘personality cult’, bigger than even President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama.

To many around the world, it is the symbolic end of the Sept 11th era.

Sure, the sensation may be fleeting, illusory. But it is a whole lot better than what we’ve had over the past 10 years (if not the past 40). And we deserve a bit of hope after so many years in the wilderness.

Plus, speaking as a person of colour, I reserve my hard-earned birth-right to be absolutely fucking gobsmacked that America has a black president (a black president!) It is, as many of my fellow POC have said, something I never expected to see in my lifetime.

Once again, as Leonard Pitts, Jr said today in his Miami Herald column,

For most of the years of the American experiment, “we the people” did not include African Americans. We were not included in “we.” We were not even included in ‘‘people.”What made it galling was all the flowery words to the contrary, all the perfumed lies about equality and opportunity. This was, people kept saying, a nation where any boy might grow up and become president. Which was only true, we knew, as long as it was indeed a boy and as long as the boy was white.

But as of today, we don’t know that anymore. What this election tells us is that the nation has changed in ways that would have been unthinkable, unimaginable, flat out preposterous, just 40 years ago. And that we, black, white and otherwise, better recalibrate our sense of the possible.

So, with all due respect to PSA and his precious undiluted ideological purity, fuck the hell off with the self-righteous killjoy routine. I’ll post whatever the fuck I want and keep doing so, whether you like it or not. Is that too ’emotional’, not ‘intellectual’ enough for you?

natodutch

Watch as I strain to shed a single tear.

Update: Dr. Prole weighs in:

And about those haters: stop insulting my intelligence with your sour grapes, nihilistic purity trolling. I’ve got work to do, and so should YOU if you’re going to do something, anything, besides sit around and bitch and moan about the state of the world and how imperfect it is. So get off your ass, fat or otherwise, and get to work or shut your fucking pie hole. Last I checked, your opposition parties could use a substantial shot in the arm. What have you done, besides type furiously to anyone but your MP, MLA, mayor or city council? I mean, there have been massive fucking missives written against Obama, surely you have time. Huh? What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? It’s not coming, so stop waiting, stop whining and crash the goddam gate.

Most politicians only understand two things: votes and money. Money can mean cash, or it can mean volunteering, boots on the ground stuff, which translates into votes. Capice?

Shark-fu nails it:

I’m going to relish this indescribable feeling today…allow my soul to fill with the emotion of knowing that my Father, may he rest in peace, would be so thrilled that he lived to witness this…and let my sore as hell feet heal a bit (wince).

But tomorrow we begin again.

President Elect Obama inherits a towering mass of drama and the daunting task of dealing with it.

And our work…the work of social justice…begins today.

Elections give us tools that we call politicians. It is our job to use the hell out of them…to hold them accountable and to work with them to bring about change.

So get your party on, y’all.

Update 2: Chet destroys the ‘personality cult’ smear (h/t pale via IM):

[O]ne of the most scurrilous falsehoods out there was that Obama’s supporters resembled a cult of some sort. Despite the fact that Obama kept insisting that the election was not really about him but about the people, some skeptics just kept repeating this distortion. Some probably still are. But no, it really wasn’t only about Obama himself. The enthusiasm came from the fact that as a public figure and campaigner he managed to tap into a deep well in American culture. His candidacy was built on a combination of the can-do Horatio Alger story at a time of general hardship, and the traditional New Deal empathy at the heart of the Democratic party, and the chance to overcome the deep wound of racism that defines much of American public life. These things matter, and if they seem irrational it’s only because they represent the basic axioms from which a larger political program can now be derived. As far as his policies go, he’s been plenty specific about them, but before you can put them into place, you’ve got to win, and before you do that you have to get people on side. As Jean Chretien once put it, “When you have power, then you can do stuff.” Obama’s path to power had nothing to do with a cult, and everything to do with shared communal ideas and principles. But you need a spark, a focal point, and a voice to help turn those ideas into action. Obama had the right qualities to be those things, and he knew it. But he also knows that that’s all he is, and so do his supporters.

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President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama Recalibrates Our Sense of the Possible

by matttbastard

(Full text, as prepared for delivery)

Still speechless, mute with awe, blissfully overwhelmed by the weight of history in action. Going to take a few days to shoulder the significance and sort through the myriad emotions.

So, until then, what Leonard Pitts, Jr. said:

For most of the years of the American experiment, “we the people” did not include African Americans. We were not included in “we.” We were not even included in ‘‘people.”

What made it galling was all the flowery words to the contrary, all the perfumed lies about equality and opportunity. This was, people kept saying, a nation where any boy might grow up and become president. Which was only true, we knew, as long as it was indeed a boy and as long as the boy was white.

But as of today, we don’t know that anymore. What this election tells us is that the nation has changed in ways that would have been unthinkable, unimaginable, flat out preposterous, just 40 years ago. And that we, black, white and otherwise, better recalibrate our sense of the possible.

Or, alternatively, what Gary (happy birthday!) said:

“It’s like the fucking end of Star Wars!”

President Barack Hussein Obama.

Savour that name, be proud of it. It is, as Juan Cole said, “an American name.”

(note: Spent last night at an election party hosted by the local chapter of Democrats Abroad, and the mood was, as one would expect, delirious.  A tip of the plaid fedora to co-chairs Ed Goehring and Gena Gruschovnikfor throwing a mean shingdig.  Hope to see both of you again soon–and congratulations.)

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