Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'm Sick of Hearing About "Activist Judges"

I've been reading up on some of the criticism being levelled at Judge Constance Russell of the Fulton County Superior Court in the wake of her decision invalidating the Georgia gay marriage ban. She didn't strike it on the basis of civil rights; instead, she recognized that the wording of the ban violated a requirement that ballot measures be designed to accomplish only one purpose. The ban does several things beyond defining marriage, including invalidating civil unions, preventing the Georgia legal system from recognizing same-sex marriages which were validly established in other states, and removing jurisdiction over same-sex divorce actions.

Governor Sonny Perdue used the most common juridical criticism, "activist judge," to signal his disapproval. This is seriously starting to piss me off. People with political agendas accuse judges of having political agendas when the court rules against them; it's just that simple. The judge held that because people might be against gay marriage but in favor of civil unions, the bill was unnecessarily broad.

That sort of conflict is precisely what the single purpose rule is designed to prevent, irrespective of the political charge of the issues at hand. This was a good call made by a good judge. Perhaps it will be vindicated when the case goes to the Georgia Supreme Court. More on this story as it develops. Back to you, Tom.

4 Comments:

Anonymous kate said...

God damn it, if I hear about one more stupid state official today....

6/18/2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

And also, yay for Judge Russell.
I remember my mom -- who really didn't USED to be homophobic -- saying that she was fine with civil unions, other legal arrangements,etc., as long as the definition wasn't changed. I wanted to SHOUT about the fact that she'd just voted for something to ban ANY of those legal arrangements, something which could, in fact, prevent making legal arrangements with a pal or a business partner who happened to be the same sex! And she'd done it just so she could prevent something that wasn't really going to happen in Louisiana anyway!

Sigh.

6/18/2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger J. Aaron Brown said...

Well, you'll be glad to know that the Louisiana amendment was shot down on exactly the same basis. I don't know if they tried to pass it again.

6/18/2006 1:32 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

Yeah, I heard that was happening, but wasn't sure how it all turned out. And after everything that's happened, including what I heard today (see one of my latest entries if you're interested), I just don't want to know what the state government's up to.

6/18/2006 2:13 PM  

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