Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
California’s Proposition 8 will remain in the dust bin because its supporters lacked the “standing” to defend it.
So ruled a U.S. Supreme Court majority last week, with Chief Justice John Roberts demonstrating the concept of “standing” by balancing on his head while juggling a handsomely bound set of law books.
Roberts maintained the dignity of the Court during this gymnastic display by keeping his robes about his ankles with the aid of rubber bands.
Proponents of Prop. 8 (defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman) lacked standing, he said, because they didn’t suffer any personal harm when lower courts overturned the voter-approved initiative.
Further, he explained, “Once Proposition 8 was approved, it became a duly enacted constitutional amendment. Petitioners have no role – special or otherwise – in its enforcement. They therefore have no ‘personal stake’ in defending its enforcement that is distinguishable from the general interest of every California citizen.”
The plaintiffs couldn’t fight for the proposition, he went on, because it was up to elected officials to defend it, and they chose not to. He added that once the district court issued its order in the case, “the respondents no longer had any injury,” a healing of almost biblical proportions.
This said, Roberts declared he was proud to have outdone his previous act of judicial contortion – the determination that Obamacare fines were actually taxes. He then mounted a unicycle, balanced while the rest of the court majority climbed aboard – constructing a pyramid surmounted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg – and trundled off the dais.
But seriously, folks: A lot more was lost in the Supreme Court ruling than the contention that marriage should be defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. What was lost was a key portion of the United States Constitution that the justices, all of them, have sworn to uphold and protect.
Homosexuals, literally dancing in the streets over the majority’s ruling, probably didn’t much note Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dissenting observation that there was “much irony” in the majority’s insistence that Proposition 8 litigation be “conducted by state officials whose preference is to lose the case.”
Kennedy noted as well, “It must be remembered that both elected officials and initiative proponents receive their authority to speak for the state of California directly from the people.” He also pointed out that the California elections code and the state Constitution afford an initiative’s proponents “the authority to assert the state’s interest in the validity of the initiative” when state officials decline responsibility.
What the Court has done, essentially, is strip the citizens of California – and that’s all citizens, regardless of sexuality – of their rights under the Constitution to defend legislation passed by referendum. It has granted elected officials the authority to ignore the will of the people, as expressed in an open election, through sins of omission.
More shockingly, the majority of justices abrogated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by doing what is forbidden to the Congress. It has abridged the right of the people to petition government for a redress of grievances.
With this, Abraham Lincoln’s ideal of a government of the people, by the people and for the people seems to have evaporated. As important as the question of marriage may be, this is a good deal more important.
The Times, it are a-changin’: The Los Angeles Times henceforth will be more “fair, nuanced and precise” in its descriptions of illegal aliens. Ooo, ooo, ooo! Sorry! Can’t say “illegal aliens” any longer, or “illegal immigrants” or even “undocumented immigrants.” (After all, one of the latter may have a passport, which is a kind of documentation, even if insufficient for legal status.)
No, no. According to the Times’ new guidelines, reporters must “be specific whenever possible in describing an individual’s status: ‘Authorities said he crossed the border illegally. She entered the country to attend college but overstayed her student visa. He was brought here as a child by his parents, who entered the U.S. without a visa. The federal government estimates that 11 million immigrants have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas.”
Now, all of these examples describe folks in the United States illegally, and you may argue they may be described accurately as “illegal aliens.” But, if we understand the Times, you may describe them as such, but you may not call them such. Not nuanced enough, you know.