Ideology Before Competence

In a previous article,
I
wrote that Governor Schwarzenegger could vastly improve his conduct if
only he obeyed the injunction “Don’t just do something, stand there!”
However, given the actions of the Democratic members of California’s
Legislature, Schwarzenegger’s previous blunders have
not had a good week, at least where logical consistency is concerned.
From the Democrat’s absurd budget proposal to their blatant violation of the balance of power,
they seem intent on tearing down the solemn edifice of constitutional state government and replacing it with a veritable
legislative/judicial Tower of Babel.

Or perhaps the phrase “tower of babble” would be more appropriate, especially given their most recent offense. According to the Los Angeles Times, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has actually put forward a legal brief intended to prove that he should not have to do the job he was elected to do. If this is “change we can believe in”, then I don’t want to believe in it for much the same reason I don’t want to believe in ghosts or the Loch Ness Monster.

The facts of the case are as follows: Jerry Brown is, as we all
know, a liberal Democrat. However, as attorney general, he is tasked
with enforcing the laws passed by the governing bodies of
California – namely, the Legislature and the voters themselves.
Normally, given the overwhelmingly blue nature of this state, these two
jobs are unlikely to conflict. Unfortunately, a little controversial
proposition by the name of Proposition 8 was passed this November, and
now faces a legal challenge
which, despite their dubious jurisdiction, the California Supreme Court
has decided to hear. Since Jerry Brown is tasked with defending
California’s laws, it is his job to mount a legal defense of
Proposition 8 before the court, and to appeal the decision if
it doesn’t go his way.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brown is not just any liberal Democrat, but the kind who is apparently incapable of
thinking outside his comfort zone. From Mr. Brown’s
point of view, supporting a backwater bill like this is apparently too painful to even think about, much less have an obligation
to do. As such, Mr. Brown has filed a legal brief alleging that he has
no responsibility to defend the bill because “the amendment process
cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without
compelling justification.”

Mr. Brown’s logic runs this way — because
the California Supreme Court has already declared that marriage is a right, the voters therefore have no right to amend the
Constitution to take away that right. This is a cute argument, except
for one problem — there is absolutely no reason to believe that any right,
even a fundamental one, is protected from removal by an amendment. Given that the United States Congress was able to suspend the
arguably more fundamental right of habeas corpus and have that
decision validated in Ex Parte McCardle,
it seems flatly obvious that any trained lawyer, Jerry Brown included,
would (and should) know better than to expect a court to stand in the
way of the balance of power.

So Mr. Brown’s legal objection is plainly an absurd one. But
the unfortunate part of the whole business is that his objection quite
obviously has nothing to do with law and everything to do with personal
politics, which have no place in Mr. Brown’s official capacity as attorney general. As already stated, Mr. Brown’s job is
to uphold the laws of the state, and if he didn’t want
that job, he absolutely should not have run for election.

The call of ambition frequently outweighs the call of
duty where men like Mr. Brown are concerned, which means that we are
very unlikely to see any sort of real debate over Proposition 8 until
someone bound by the state Constitution and not the laws of
cocktail liberalism is placed in his post.