In the “We the People” Supreme Court race debate last Friday evening, when the subject of judicial activism came up, incumbent Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said labels don’t matter. In fact, they have, she says, no meaning. I’m not sure the people in Iowa would agree with her this morning.
By sheer judicial fiat, on a 6-0 vote, the Iowa Supreme Court today overturned that state’s 170-year-old marriage law. The court claimed the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1998 by a solid legislative majority with support from the citizens violated the Iowa Equal Protection clause in the constitution. So much for the will of the people as expressed by their duly elected legislative representatives. “We want what we want, not what the people want” is apparently the mantra of the Iowa court. That is raw judicial activism–in both label and action.
Such could have easily been the fate of marriage in Wisconsin had we not voted overwhelmingly (59.4% to 41.6%) in favor of Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment in November 2006.
It is worth noting that efforts are and have been underway to amend Iowa’s constitution much as Wisconsin and many other states have done.
I read the opening pages of the Iowa high court’s opinion, and it is hard to believe any court, let alone a state supreme court, would actually write what they wrote, things such as (in reference to the plaintiffs),
And at the end of the opinion, this…
“We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination.” (emphasis added)
That is sheer judicial activism. Apparently, the Iowa Constitution means whatever 6 lawyers in black robes want it to mean.