Governor as dictator

Governor as dictator

Julius Caesar bust - wikiJerry Brown 2June 27, 2013

By John Seiler

“Hail Caesar!” Gov. Jerry Brown likes classical references. So that’s one we should salute him with every time we see him.

As I wrote yesterday about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8, which briefly banned same-sex marriage in California:

“the U.S. Supreme Court made every vote on Prop. 8 in 2008, and every vote that might have been cast in 2014 [to repeal it], utterly pointless. …

“The court decided that the case didn’t have standing because Gov. Jerry Brown, the supposed top officer in the state (actually, it’s the people of California), didn’t appeal the case, only some people who backed Prop. 8. That means any initiative now passed in the state is operative only if the sitting governor agrees with it….

“Strangely, the decision has turned governors into virtual dictators.”

Today, other writers have agreed with me.

Dan Walters, the dean of Sacramento journalists, says in this YouTube although he favors allowing same-sex marriage, the decision “leads to the possibility in the future that a governor… could basically kill a ballot measure, voted for by the people of California, simply by refusing to defend it against court challenges. Don’t wish for something  that you’re not prepared to accept.”

And this is from Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:

“From what I’ve scanned, I think there are going to be groups on the left and right – environmental groups, labor groups — who are going to be very concerned about their ability to defend initiatives in the courts. It’s very concerning that the validity of their sponsored initiative would depend on an adequate defense by an elected official when the whole reason for the initiative process is to bypass the political structure. … The initiative process is the people’s process, and this really shifts the defense of that process to those that are, on the natural, hostile to it.”

According to the Bee, Coupal “is considering a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to define initiative proponents as agents of the state for the limited purpose of defending ballot measures in court.”

But there’s a Catch-22: If such an initiative passed, then someone would challenge it in court. Then Brown could refuse to defend the new initiative in court, meaning it would, like Prop. 8, have no “standing,” and so die.

Hail Caesar Brown!



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