Wednesday, August 4, 2010

1,000,000 "Frenchmen" CAN Be Wrong

Today California’s Courts overturned the people’s ban on same-sex marriage. I posted a link to the news on Facebook, hailing the decision as a victory for liberty and human rights. Yet, my cousin commented that the decision signaled an erosion of voters’ power to govern.

In 2008, Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, was passed by 52.24% of California’s voters. Some would argue that the courts have no business overturning “the will of the people.” I thought about this, it sounds like a valid point. After all, Democracy is supposed to be based on “the will of the people,” isn’t it?

No, I'm sorry, as much as I love my cousin, this argument doesn't hold water. "The will of the people" was never intended to be able to circumvent the country's founding principles of freedom and personal liberty. If mere elections had such an unchecked power, the ban on interracial marriage would've been kept in place in southern states by southern voters of the time. Human rights are not commodities to be granted and revoked according to the whim of the populace.

In the words of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, "The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

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