Opinionated @ CFE

Judge Walker Goes to Crazytown

Aug
13

I’ve already said that I think that Judge Walker made the right call on the Prop 8 case based on the evidence (or lack thereof) presented. Now, however, he’s hinting at a decision so bad it has to be crazy. It’s being reported that he does not believe that the team that defended Prop 8 can file an appeal of his decision.

The argument is that because the defenders of the initiative suffer no obvious repercussions should they lose, they therefore don’t have standing to challenge the decision, a right reserved primarily to the governor and attorney general. Both of those parties didn’t even choose to defend against the lawsuit in court, so the likelihood of them filing an appeal is non-existent. As Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor put it:

[Y]ou can sponsor a proposition, direct it, research it, work for it, raise $40 million for it, get it on a ballot, successfully campaign for it and then have no ability to defend it independently in court.

He didn’t even get to the part where they were allowed to defend it, but not allowed to file an appeal. You can bet, however, that the opposing side would not have the same restriction placed upon them. Does that sound fair to you?

At the core, this sets a terrible precedent for the citizen initiative process. If a citizen-driven initiative can only be defended in an appellate court by a handful of elected officials, all of which are hostile to that initiative, then what’s the point of allowing another party to defend it at trial, much less launch an initiative to begin with? He’s basically saying that the governor and AG hold an unofficial veto power. Regardless of where you stand on Prop 8 itself, that precedent is horrible.

I hope the higher courts will see the giant gaping flaws and obvious double-standards in Judge Walker’s opinion on the appeal and blow it straight out the water.

Prop 8 is Still Far From Settled

Aug
04

I saw a lot of comment almost immediately on Twitter after it was announced that the judge in the case to overturn California’s Proposition 8 had declared the ballot measure to be an un-Constitutional violation of the 14th Amendment. Despite both cheering and booing of the decision, everyone is missing the point that the matter isn’t anywhere near over. There will be an appeal to the 9th Circuit, and most likely it will continue to the Supreme Court. (It’s anyone’s guess as to if the SCOTUS will choose to hear the case or not.) Any victory dancing or lamentations are premature, especially since a stay on the ruling as part of the appeal is very likely.

Quite honestly, Judge Walker made the right decision. The arguments in favor of Prop 8 were weak and amateurish. (ONE witness? Seriously guys?) None of the defendants in the case, including the Governor and Attorney General, chose to argue the government’s case in favor of it. Any judge who actually ruled in their favor would have been rightfully ridiculed as out of his mind.

Raising Taxes And Fiscal Responsibility

Sep
28

Ever since Reagan, the unending call of conservatism has been to cut taxes and cut ’em deep. The theory is that with massive cuts in revenues, Congress would have no choice but to start cutting back on spending. What we saw through the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II years is that the plan backfired. Instead of paring back on spending, Congress showed an incredible lack of willpower and whipped out the national credit card to make up the difference. Apparently the “starve the beast” approach didn’t work despite 20 years of White House policy enforcing it, so why are conservatives still marching behind it?

That’s the question that Bruce Bartlett asked last week in Forbes. Since huge deficits don’t make people call their Congresscritters and demand reductions in spending, perhaps raising taxes across the board to cover the increased cost of government largess would do it. Let me say right now with no qualification that we should all be expected to pay the full cost of the government services which we are receiving. If it can’t be paid for with taxes or savings, the money simply is not there to spend.

I know, it sounds like crazy talk, the same kind of crazy talk that President George H. W. Bush was talking in 1990 when he expended a mountain of political capital to institute PAYGO rules. These same rules were likely responsible for large balance-sheet surpluses in the 90’s. True to form, though, Congress used all of it and then some on increased spending leading to an even larger national debt. (Not much of a surplus if you ask me.) If this situation sounds rather recent and familiar, replace the word Congress with California legislature and you get an idea of how this story ends.

So what are we to do? It seems that there is an insatiable demand for increased services and decreased taxes from the citizenry and the federal government has been trying to placate both. I say raise taxes to pay for these services and see what happens. It can’t be any worse than saddling future generations with a debt costing many times what it does now and just maybe a few more people will be willing to give on their demands for government services.

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