November 17, 2008

But we voted!

Today, I got in a debate at fencing.

Eventually, I will learn that this is never a good idea, but today I accidentally did anyway, when I mentioned that The California Attorney General has urged the Supreme Court to review Prop 8.

"Psh. People need to drop it," said my enlightened friend. "We voted, it's over. If they want to change it, they should have another vote."

"Putting minority rights up for majority vote isn't really how it's supposed to work," I pointed out. "If we voted on all unpopular Supreme Court cases, we'd still be in segregated classrooms."

"Of course not. I wouldn't have voted for that," he said.

Yes. Because you, having grown up in a desegregated society in an upper-middle-class, educated household, are totally characteristic of the political atmosphere in the South in the 1950s. How could I have missed it?

But I digress.

I don't know very much about Constitutional law, but it seems to me that I've learned in more or less every U.S. history class I've ever taken that the Supreme Court is supposed to be sort of isolated from public opinion, so as to properly do their job of ensuring that the law is fair and equal, which seems to very often mean protecting minorities.

Which means "But we voted!" is not a Constitutionally sound argument.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hey, fencing, that an awesome sport. I once broke a foil on a guy when we both lunged at the same time. It was wacky.

But back to the point.

I think that one thing you're going to run into is that people in America tend to have some pretty religious feelings about voting. Voting, they imagine, somehow gives life, breath, and legitimacy to everything in our nation. People have real trouble with the idea that the majority isn't always right, and that the USA needs a back-up safety. It just doesn't sit right with people, never mind how much elections can be influenced by, say, a few million dollars from one church or another or frighteningly low voter turn out among California's far-left population.

People just have to remember that we all play by the same rules, and if we want to have a stable country, we need to remember that we all are still under those rules, even after we've voted. In this country, the rules are there to protect people rights. By voting to steal anther person's rights away, you're going against the bigger rule. We have the courts to defend against this. The end