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    Jerry Brown Facing Off With Ken Starr Over Prop. 8

    Although it's been expected that there would be legal arguements both for and against the legal standing of California's Proposition 8, which amends the state's constitution such that only opposite sex marriages are recognized, the manner in which these arguments are playing out has just become more interesting.  State Attorney General Jerry Brown has asked the California State Supreme Court to overturn Prop. 8 in a recent filing.  From the SF Chronicle:

    "Proposition 8 must be invalidated because the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification," Brown said.

    The authors of the state Constitution, he said, did not intend "to put a group's right to enjoy liberty to a popular vote."


    "We have a conflict between the amendment power (through voter initiatives) and the duty of the Supreme Court to protect minorities and safeguard liberty," Brown said.

    Fundamental rights in the state Constitution, including the right to marry that the state's high court has recognized, "become a dead letter if they can just be amended" by popular vote, Brown said.

    This represents something of a reversal on two different points for Brown, both because he argued to uphold the ban previously overturned by the Supreme Court, which in turn led to the movement behind Prop. 8, and because he had indicated after the election that he would legally uphold the proposition's passage.

    The other interesting development here is that the Yes on 8 camp has enlisted the services of one Kenneth Starr, though his arguments are not that surprising on their own:

    "It simply reinstates the traditional definition of marriage without any impact on the foundational powers of government," he wrote. Judges, Starr said, retain their power to interpret the law and have never held a "mandate to protect minority rights or ensure equality apart from the law."

    Should Brown's arguments prevail, this would offer not only a reversal of fortune on Prop. 8, but also create an interesting new precedent that could potentially constrain California's initiative process in the future.


    While you’re at it, Ken, why not introduce Proposition 9?

    Prop 9 could roll back the Emancipation Proclamation.

    Only one as morally void as Ken Starr would even think of aiding the over turn of Prop 8.

    Jerry Brown is the state's Attorney General? He's pretty old, isn't he? 

    The whole initiative process has always confused me a bit. When I lived in California, I found it impossible to keep them all straight. That was back in the early 90s, when state term limits was the biggest issue. It seems to me that it's too easy to boil the propositions down to sound bites when the actual implications of voting one way or the other are much more nuanced. I remember feeling back then that it was sort of silly to elect public officials to set policy and then have people voting on individual policies as well. I understand the point of view that it's democracy in action, really giving people a say in their government, but a mechanism already exists for that in lobbying elected officials at the state level. Seems to me that individuals talking to their officials are able to make more of an impact at the state level than at the federal level. But then, California is a different animal than most states, I guess.

    Yeah, he's been around.  He's been Governor, Sec. of State, State Chair of the Dems and the Mayor of Oakland.

    I definitely understand your point of view on the initiative process.  While I think that direct democratic action sounds good in theory, in practice it's seemed to have some flaws that aren't necessarily apparent beforehand.  The 2003 recall election had some similarly baffling trappings.

    As far as representation goes, Californians are represented roughly as well in their state government as they are in their federal government.  It's 1 assemblyperson to about 400k citizens and 1 senator to about 800k citizens.  If you average this out, it comes out to about 1 rep per 600k citizens, which is comparable to to our total of 55 reps at the federal level.  Whether this is adequate for the average citizen to have enough access to influence their representation is another issue.

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