Jan LaRue: California Marriage Judge Is on Shaky Ground
ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Jan LaRue wrote this column appearing August 13, 2010 on The American Thinker.
Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker out in San Francisco is the latest champion of bigotry busting.
He sees everybody, including God and allegedly President Barack Obama and millions who think marriage ought to remain between a man and a woman, as unadulterated homophobic bigots. The good news is that Walker committed the supreme judicial faux pas by flipping off the U.S. Supreme Court in the process.
The case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger shouldn’t have gone to trial. It should have been decided with two sentences: “Judgment is entered for defendants. The Supreme Court held in Baker v. Nelson that a state law denying same-sex couples a marriage license does not violate the U.S. Constitution.”
Walker’s 136-page opinion does support my general theory that the nuttier the opinion, the more trees die in order to explain it. Walker consumes 108 pages on his “findings of fact,” most of which are irrelevant suppositions, circular reasoning, erroneous and downright dippy.
Maybe Walker’s next blow-to-bigotry will short circuit the dastardly sexual stereotyping of electrical plugs and outlets as “male and female.” Or, is denying the truth about the means of connecting to electrical power too big a surge even for Walker?
While Walker had no problem slipping same-sex “marriage” into the U.S. Constitution, he couldn’t find one rational reason for keeping marriage between a man and a woman– not one–not 6,000 years of human history, morality, religion, biology, health, the welfare of children, including their right to have a mom and a dad, establishing legal responsibility for children born of sexual relationships, or preserving the bedrock of Western civilization.
Where are Al Gore and the Greenies when you need them? After laying waste to a small forest, Walker concluded on page 135:
“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians.”
Note the double standard. Walker decreed that it’s wrong for seven million Californians to make a moral judgment about who can marry. But it’s proper for him to substitute his moral judgment about who can marry as the “law” of California.
Walker simply created a “right” that supposedly trumps the express right of Californians to amend their constitution. What’s not to like?
You don’t need GPS navigation to track the satellite signal to Walker’s discrimination dish– it’s none other than Justice Anthony Kennedy–the Supreme Court’s “gay animus” detector. Walker cites and quotes Kennedy’s opinions in Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas 17 times. The fact that neither has a whit to do with marriage law isn’t a speed bump for a judge driving a political agenda. Walker is signaling Kennedy that his Romer and Lawrence opinions lead inexorably to laminating same-sex “marriage” onto the U.S. Constitution. Kennedy’s Lawrence opinion, however, suggests that this may be a bridge too far.
Kennedy limited Lawrence to the facts of the case–a Texas statute that criminalized homosexual sodomy in private, which is far afield from a civil law defining who can marry in California. Kennedy wrote:
“It does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.”
Furthermore, Walker doesn’t mention the one “on point” case, Baker v. Nelson (1972), in which the Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman. The Court dismissed the appeal of a Minnesota Supreme Court case “for want of a substantial federal question,” which constitutes a decision on the merits of the case, binding on all lower courts.
The Supreme Court held in Hicks v. Miranda that a summary dismissal is binding precedent on all lower federal courts. “[U] ntil the Supreme Court should instruct otherwise, inferior federal courts had best adhere to the view that the Court has branded a question as unsubstantial.”
In 2004, Justice Joyce Kennard of the California Supreme Court acknowledged the Baker precedent in her concurring/dissenting opinion in another same-sex marriage case, Lockyer v. San Francisco.
“[I]ndeed, there is a decision of the United States Supreme Court, binding on all other courts and public officials, that a state law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples does not violate the federal Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. … The binding force of a summary decision on the merits continues until the high court instructs otherwise. … The United States Supreme Court has not expressly overruled Baker v. Nelson, … nor do any of its later decisions contain doctrinal developments that are necessarily incompatible with that decision. Until the United States Supreme Court says otherwise, which it has not yet done, Baker v. Nelson defines federal constitutional law on the question whether a state may deny same-sex couples the right to marry.”
Judges like Walker who ignore the Big Nine’s precedents generally get a judicial thumping when the Supremes get their hands on the lower court’s impudence. Take, for example, Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Roper v. Simmons, lambasting the lower court’s “flagrant disregard” of the Court’s precedent:
“To add insult to injury, the Court affirms the Missouri Supreme Court without even admonishing that court for its flagrant disregard of our precedent in Stanford. Until today, we have always held that ‘it is this Court’s prerogative alone to overrule one of its precedents. That has been true even where ‘changes in judicial doctrine’ ha[ve] significantly undermined’ our prior holding, and even where our prior holding appears to rest on reasons rejected in some other line of decisions, Today, however, the Court silently approves a state-court decision that blatantly rejected controlling precedent.”
Let’s hope Scalia writes the majority opinion when Walker’s “order” reaches the Court. Talk about a kick in the briefs.