Assembly Speaker Karen Bass gathered reporters this morning to talk about the state’s increasingly dark budget picture and Democrats’ proposals to curb home foreclosures. But the chat quickly turned to Proposition 8 and the decision by Bass and 43 other legislative Democrats Monday to petition (.pdf) the Supreme Court to overturn the recently passed initiative.
“People were devastated by the vote,” Bass said. Reporters continued to press her. Weren’t Democrats thumbing their nose at California voters? Weren’t they just stirring the pot on an emotionally charged issue?
Bass wouldn’t budge. “People have deep concerns about the outcome” of the election, she said.
Ironically, the list of 44 petitioning Democrats did not include the two legislators standing alongside her: Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara. Both are lawyers and both have been rumored as potential future candidates for state attorney general. Both publicly opposed Prop 8. But both were at the press conference to talk about solutions to the foreclosure crisis, not the Prop 8 challenge.
The petition, prepared by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, makes the same arguments offered by other opponents: that the initiative amounts to a constitutional revision, which can only be enacted in the Legislature, not at the ballot box; that Prop 8 would violate the equal protection clause; and that the measure would strip the court’s ability to protect minority rights.
“The legislative amici urge this court to prevent the momentary passions of a bare majority from compromising the enduring constitutional promise of equal protection under the law,” the petition says.
The Democrats have chosen a petition as their method of influencing the court. Social conservatives are considering something else. James Lacy, an Orange County elections lawyer, wrote on the FlashReport Web site over the weekend that Prop 8 supporters may consider “the nuclear option”: recalling justices, or maybe just waiting to “non-confirm” them at the 2010 election, if the court overturns Prop 8. As many as three justices (George, Chin, Moreno) may be on the 2010 ballot, two of whom (George, Moreno) were in the majority of the gay marriage ruling last spring.
“The court needs to take practical notice: advocates of Proposition 8 are not going to just dry up and go away,” Lacy wrote. “Marriage is between two spouses, man and wife. Beware!”
— Cheryl Miller