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Judicial Review Exists for a Reason August 5, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Since Judge Walker announced his decision overturning Proposition 8, the right-wing has been livid. And their most common complaint is that, because Proposition 8 had been approved by 52% of California voters, the decision is somehow an affront to those voters and the very idea of democracy.

But this whole line of reasoning simply ignores the reason why we have an independent judiciary.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Marbury v. Madison in 1803, the Supreme Court has had the power to decide whether or not the actions of the legislative and executive branches of government are constitutional. Judicial review is fundamental to our democracy because it protects the rights of unpopular minorities. In our system of government, the majority cannot take away fundamental rights protected by the constitution from individuals in a minority group simply because the majority doesn’t like them.

School segregation, Jim Crow laws, and bans on interracial marriage were overturned because they violated the rights of minorities despite the fact that these laws were supported by overwhelming majorities.

The fact that a majority voted for a law is simply not relevant to the question of whether the law is constitutional or not. The courts exist to protect the rights of minorities; not just to rubber stamp decisions by the other branches of government.

It is not surprising that some of the tea partiers making this argument are ignorant of the constitution or the foundations of democracy. What is inexcusable is that commentators and politicians who should know better make the same argument.

Any of us could find ourselves despised by a majority because we are part of some group of people who become unpopular.

Do these opponents of judge Walker’s decision really want to live in a political system that has no judicial review and no protection for minorities?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com


American Taliban August 4, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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The ruling by District Judge Vaughn Walker declaring California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, to be unconstitutional is welcome news. Judge Walker ruled there is no rational basis for prohibiting same-sex marriage and it violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution. Here is the full opinion.

Of course this is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court where representatives of the American Taliban currently hold power. So there is no telling what the ultimate fate of Prop 8 will be. I suppose it depends on whether Justice Kennedy allows his  libertarian tendencies to shine.

But while we are on the subject of the American Taliban, it is worth making note of what is going on in the Nevada Senate race, where the extremist Republican candidate Sharron Angle (R) has introduced Biblical interpretation into the race. Jon Ralston reports on recent comments she made on a Christian radio talk-show.

“And these programs that you mentioned — that Obama has going with Reid and Pelosi pushing them forward — are all entitlement programs built to make government our God. And that’s really what’s happening in this country is a violation of the First Commandment. We have become a country entrenched in idolatry, and that idolatry is the dependency upon our government. We’re supposed to depend upon God for our protection and our provision and for our daily bread, not for our government.”

This mindset will further reinforce to some that religion infuses everything Angle believes but also might explain her hostility to government programs, believing essentially they are produced by a false God. […]

“I need warriors to stand beside me. You know, this is a war of ideology, a war of thoughts and of faith. And we need people to really stand for faith and trust, not hope and change.”

This is about as clear a statement as one could want about what this lunatic thinks of U.S. democracy. U.S. law ought to be subordinated to Old Testament Christianity. As Steve Benen reveals:

The Las Vegas Sun recently reported that Angle, who said she’s running because God told her to, embraces a radical church-state philosophy that “parallels that of a religious political movement — Christian Reconstructionism — seeking to return American civil society to biblical law.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Christian Reconstructionism, it’s quite literally analogous to the Taliban and radical proponents of Sharia law — just as they want to replace secular law with laws based on their interpretation of the Quran, Reconstructionists want to replace secular law in the U.S. with their interpretation of the Christian Bible. In this vision, a radical take on Scripture would take the place of our Constitution.

These are the very same people who are screaming about threats from Muslims who are allegedly dedicated to imposing Sharia law on us all.

I’m having trouble parsing the differences between being ruled by Old Testament Christianity and being ruled by Sharia Law.

And if this is not sufficiently farcical for your taste, how about this from the Colorado Governor’s race:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are “converting Denver into a United Nations community.”

“This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed,” Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor’s efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes “that’s exactly the attitude they want you to have.”

“This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms,” Maes said.

He added: “These aren’t just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to.”

Bike paths are a diabolical United Nations plot! This person is running for Governor! As Kos writes

But beyond the horserace aspect, Maes gives us yet another window into the psyche of the teabagger, one in which being environmentally responsible is suspect, in which the United Nations is code word for communist. It’s a world in which “liberty” apparently means dealing with congestion-choked streets, noxious air quality, and unhealthy living.

We know this crowd hates brown people, non-Christians, single women, Hollywood, San Francisco, Massachusetts, gays, immigrants, New York, Chicago, anyone born in Hawaii, Muslims, urbanites, liberals, environmentalists, anyone who wears birkenstocks or drinks lattes, and any country outside of the United States.

I guess you can add cyclists to the list.

We are losing blood and treasure fighting a war against ignorance, bigotry and intolerance in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, our enemies seem to have infiltrated American politics.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com