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March 11, 2004
California Supreme Court Enforces the Law -- Finally

This afternoon, the California Supreme Court finally called a halt to the flouting of state law going on in San Francisco, ruling that same-gender couples cannot be married pending review of a court challenge to the applicable law approved 2-1 by referendum:

The California Supreme Court today ordered San Francisco officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the court can hold a hearing on gay marriages. The hearing would be held later this spring.

The question of whether same-sex couples can legally marry exploded into Americans' consciousness in the month since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered gender-neutral marriage licenses to be issued. He argued that to prohibit same-sex marriages violated the equal protection clause of the state Constitution. ...

More than 3,800 licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in San Francisco. And from city halls to the streets to the capitols in several states, there have been tearful nuptials, impassioned demonstrations and debates.

Gavin Newsom made a mockery of his office by declaring that his personal view of the law overrode that of California voters. Just as when Justice Roy Moore refused to remove the 6-ton monument he installed in the Alabama Supreme Court building, public officials who flout laws of their choosing must be immediately brought up short and, if necessary, impeached from office.

Executives have one function: enforcing the law, not interpreting it to their own ends. As I postulated earlier, this would lead to other executives around the country taking a Lutherian view of the law, that of personal interpretation trumping that of authority. Had this continued, mayors could have started reviewing other laws and enforcing their own interpretations, such as: issuing concealed-carry permits for handguns based on the 2nd Amendment, interpreting that the federal Constitution overrode local restrictions; closing abortion clinics, interpreting abortion as murder, and so on.

Our form of government creates specific processes for passing laws, and checks on power between the branches to ensure that loose cannons cannot do lasting damage to society. Newsom's contempt for these processes should disqualify him for public office, and would if it were anywhere else other than San Francisco.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 11, 2004 5:28 PM

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