The California Supreme Court issued its ruling today upholding Proposition 8 and affirming that gay marriage is unconstitutional in California.
However, at the outset of the opinion, the Justices said this:
“[O]ur task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution. Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question. It bears emphasis in this regard that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”
If you’re not that familiar with the courts and judicial opinions, you almost never see anything like that stated. It is not relevant to the opinion. In fact, it tends to undermine the opinion: ‘Here, let me hold my nose while I tell you my ruling is in my view stinky.’
To me, it sounds like the Justices do not want to be recalled because of their decision.
Amazing, the Supreme Court has to come out and say their role is to determine the constitutionality of the proposition, regardless of their personal beliefs. I don’t know about you, but aren’t they supposed to do that in every case? By implication, does this mean other opinions without this self-serving statement are based on their personal beliefs and not the law?
I can only imagine the harsh response from the court if an attorney filed a brief saying: ‘Your honor, my client was found guilty of being a scumbag murderer that deserves the death penalty. I am not going to disclose my personal beliefs about the guilt of my client based on the evidence or whether it is wise or in the public interest for my client to mingle with honest citizens, because just applying legal rules, my client should be released.’
How about this: a statement of decision with concise legal analysis, without any unnecessary personal references or academic lectures about the role of the court.