Sodomite Suppression Act shut down by CA Superior Court

On Tuesday, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond M. Cadei ruled to prevent the Sodomite Suppression Act from moving forward in the initiative process. State Attorney General Kamala Harris, who first filed an action for declaratory relief, is no longer obligated to issue a title and summary for the act.

As Judge Cadei wrote in his one-page ruling, the Sodomite Suppression Act – also known as the “Shoot The Gays Initiative” – is “patently unconstitutional on its face,” and any further filing action “would be inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate.”

ruling

Regarding the ruling, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a press release:

“Lest there was any doubt, a heinous California ballot initiative seeking to put gay people to death has been found unconstitutional. HRC thanks Attorney General Kamala Harris for her continued leadership in standing up for the rights and dignity of LGBT Californians, and Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei for recognizing that this barbaric initiative has no place on a ballot in California or anywhere else.”

The act was initially filed in February by Orange County attorney Matt McLaughlin, and called sodomy an “abominable crime against nature” and “a monstrous evil.” McLaughlin proposed gay and lesbian “offenders” should “be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”

Tori Rector/flickr

Tori Rector/flickr

In March, Attorney General Harris requested the state Superior Court to relieve her from the responsibility of creating a title and summary for the initiative. “This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” she said in a prepared statement. “If the court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism.”

Since the filing, two larger issues have worked themselves into the discussion of reforming the state ballot initiative process.

First, because it costs $200 to submit an initiative and begin the process of gathering 365,880 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, some believe the fee should be raised in order to prevent abuse of the system.

Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, said in a release, “While the court’s ruling on this egregious initiative proposal is both legally and morally the right action to take, the events bring attention to the need to reform the initiative process.” He and Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, introduced Assembly Bill 1100, which would increase the filing fee from $200 to $8,000. The legislation since then has been amended to increase the fee to $2,500, but critics worry a higher fee would prevent legitimate grass-roots petitioners from gaining traction without the help of well-off backers.

Second, some advocate that the state attorney general should be given the power “to kill a proposal that would conflict with superseding law” – such as murder. Technically, any proposed initiative must be given a title and summary by the state attorney general, but some say the AG should have the authority to turn down the numerous long-shot and outright offensive measures that have come up throughout the years.

However, this kind of power could enable elected partisan officials to filter out all the measures that go against their own political agendas. Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, told NPR that the initiative process must “be kept at arm’s length from the Legislature and the politicians who frequently want to usurp its power.”

10 comments

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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 24 June, 2015, 11:11

    This is a VERY dangerous precedent if the Attorney General is given the power to reject any initiative as “unconstitutional.”

    NO ONE would support this loathsome “kill gays” initiative (which would NEVER even make it on the ballot), it opens the door for government officials to unilaterally forbid any disliked “unconstitutional” initiatives from appearing on the ballot.

    What’s “unconstitutional”? Well, whatever the government officials SAY is unconstitutional!

    Yes, initiative backers can get that ruling overturned after an expensive and unnecessary court battle, but at the very least proponents would find their measure delayed a year or more, and smeared with an ‘official’ determination that the prop is unconstitutional.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 25 June, 2015, 17:33

      If legal murder is not unconstitutional, then nothing is unconstitutional. Duh!!!

      Reply this comment
      • Richard Rider
        Richard Rider 25 June, 2015, 19:12

        NO ONE doubts that this measure is unconstitutional, SeeSaw, but the power to MAKE that decision should rest with the courts, not with the AG, or other government official. Once that power is delegated, it’s all too easy for officials to let their own political agenda guide their decision-making. Certainly our AG has demonstrated this trait in her biased writing of the “impartial” AG Title and Summary of initiatives.

        But then, you ARE a Democrat, and you DO want your officials to have that power. So it’s only right and proper that you favor the ability to block props before they start. I wouldn’t have expected otherwise from you.

        As you so aptly put it — Duh!!!

        Reply this comment
        • SeeSaw
          SeeSaw 25 June, 2015, 19:47

          It did take the courts to block this Richard–an official or other plaintiff must bring a case first.

          My being a Democrat is not a deciding factor in whether or not I will favor any particular initiative. I have a brain, and I will decide on my own after reviewing all the available information.

          Reply this comment
          • Richard Rider
            Richard Rider 25 June, 2015, 20:17

            Read the article, SeeSaw. Note that I said “IF the AG is given the power . . . .” Some are trying to give the AG just that power to block “unconstitutional” props. Bad idea.

            Moreover, the AG OR ANY OTHER PARTY should not be able to bring an action against a prop before it is ballot qualified. That gives anyone the potential to delay an initiative for months. Moreover, it would tack potentially tens of thousands of legal costs on to anyone attempting to file a grass roots initiative.

          • SeeSaw
            SeeSaw 25 June, 2015, 21:39

            When the initiative is to legalize murder, I say the AG has the responsibility to go to the Court to block it! She would have been derelict in her duty if she had not done what she did!

      • ex cal
        ex cal 15 July, 2015, 04:58

        well said seesaw. the biggest joke is libs sitting on a state funded judiciary claiming something is or isnt constitutional. a chicken with a lever is a more valid.

        Reply this comment
  2. desmond
    desmond 24 June, 2015, 18:50

    The irony that Kummie gets involved with this. Maybe that is not a preferred position with Willie.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ted S
    Ted S 27 June, 2015, 21:26

    This judge of course got it right—I have to see so called conservatives try to critique it! LMAO—- flash forward to 2017 when they are licking their wounds asking…how did we lose…..a g a i n?

    On a side note– what a GREAT week for liberty and the Constitution!

    Freedom to Marry
    ACA is Constitutional
    Our President steps up to stop racism in a POWERful way!!!!

    #The Ted is loving this!

    Reply this comment
  4. nmlnana
    nmlnana 28 June, 2015, 12:50

    The Idaho legislature have floated a couple of unconstitutional issues that were not stopped by the AG. Then, taxpayers spent thousands of dollars to get them suppressed.

    Reply this comment

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