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!

14 comments

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  1. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 27 June, 2013, 15:04

    To achieve legal standing, all you have to do is provide a plaintiff who can show harm resulting from the law. Since nobody can demonstrate they are personally harmed by a legal decision that allows gay people to marry and receive the same marriage benefits as others, there wasn’t anyone with standing to bring such a case.

    Reply this comment
  2. Jay in Oakland
    Jay in Oakland 27 June, 2013, 15:47

    Uncle Jerry is a neighbor of mine and I often see him at a local Oakland restaurant we both frequent, I will be sure to rise to my feet and proclaim, “Hail Caesar!” the next time I run into him…It should be fun…

    Reply this comment
  3. gocky
    gocky 27 June, 2013, 16:43

    Hey Jay in Oakland, why don’t you just punch that pile of crap in the face for me?

    Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 27 June, 2013, 17:12

    Governor Clown is a weasel for not defending Prop. 8 in the courts, however, I personally don’t have a problem with homosexuals getting a marriage license. For that matter, I don’t have a problem with polygamy either. This country has many serious problems that could cause us great harm if not addressed but same sex marriage isn’t one of them.

    The ability of politicians to kill popular referenda by refusing to defend them in court is definitely troubling though. However, in theory, there is a remedy for that. We could throw out politicians who betray the public trust, but voters are just too stupid to make the connection.

    The historical irony of all this is pretty rich, since it was “Progressives” who gave us the initiative process and now it is they who are undermining it for political and ideological advantage.

    Reply this comment
  5. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 27 June, 2013, 17:36

    “The ability of politicians to kill popular referenda by refusing to defend them in court is definitely troubling though.”

    Boy you can say that again.

    Especially when you consider the next person to ascend to the governorship following Clown’s baton passing in 2019 to………….why, Antonio Villaraigosa, of course.

    Reply this comment
  6. mary
    mary 27 June, 2013, 18:07

    No fence sitting for me.this is wrong, wrong. I make no apologies for my beliefs.This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Reply this comment
  7. skippingdog
    skippingdog 27 June, 2013, 19:57

    Since a Governor has the power to veto a piece of legislation coming to him from our legislature, why shouldn’t he have the authority to determine if state resources will be used to support a legal battle over an initiative? It’s really nothing more than a pocket-veto by the Governor.

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 27 June, 2013, 20:28

    Skipping Dog: Here’s why anybody in the state should have been allowed to claim legal standing. The California Constitution begins: “We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.”

    “We, the people…” run the state, or are supposed to.

    The Supreme Court just change that to, “I, Caesar Brown…”

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  9. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 27 June, 2013, 22:23

    The actual ruling is that citizens have no standing in *federal* court. State-level standing isn’t affected at all.

    What’s going to happen is a repeat of what the EPA does to evade Congress in Federal court: a state AG who hates a particular ballot initiative solicits a friendly plaintiff in Federal court and then loses by default or by explicitly signing a consent decree.

    Reply this comment
  10. skippingdog
    skippingdog 27 June, 2013, 23:58

    John: The Supreme Court changed nothing with this decision. It has repeatedly held that there is no such thing as general standing under our legal principles. My point remains: If the Prop 8 proponents had been able to present even one person who had suffered harm from the legalization of gay marriage, that individual would have had standing before the court. The fact that such a person was never located or presented tells us everything we need to know about the “harm” posed by gay marriage in California or elsewhere.

    Reply this comment
  11. Lot's wife
    Lot's wife 28 June, 2013, 08:34

    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/

    No ones every been hurt by the promotion of homosexuality’s affects on society.

    Reply this comment
  12. Red
    Red 28 June, 2013, 15:58

    Seems like a simple enough situation to me. Mr. Brown and Ms. Harris have verified that citizens of California sworn to defend their constitution may ignore any provision of that constitution they personally disagree with. With the precedent set that individual laws and constitutional amendments may be disregarded when they conflict with personal beliefs, then I see no reason why the rest of us California citizens should be forced to comply with laws and constitutional amendments we don’t agree with. Works for me just fine. I can think of ALL SORTS of problems that could very easily be resolved without those pesky laws tripping me up all of the time. Hmmmmm. Just imagine.

    Reply this comment
  13. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 28 June, 2013, 20:27

    HIV isn’t limited to the gay population, so it’s not clear what point you were trying to make. You were far more intelligent as a pillar of salt.

    Reply this comment
  14. Queeg
    Queeg 29 June, 2013, 08:52

    It is healthy for CWD loons to vent…..but….deep down you love strong, positive and progressive leadership.

    One or two of you should knit him a royal blue and gold robe….you’ll fill fulfilled!

    Reply this comment

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