Suddenly, I was feeling nostalgic for those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the “liberal, activist” Warren Supreme Court ruled the land.
In Gideon v. Wainwright, (1963), the Court ruled that indigent defendants had a right to counsel, even if they couldn’t afford it. In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), the court determined that the police practice of interrogating individuals without notifying them of their right to counsel and their protection against self-incrimination violated the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
And, most on point, Loving v. Virginia, the Court declared the state of Virginia’s antimiscegenation law unconstitutional.
If it were up to the general public in the 1960s, would every suspect get a lawyer and a Miranda warning? Heck, no, but it was the right and just thing to do. Or would Virginia and 15 other states have dropped their ban on interracial marriage without “assistance”? The proof is this: 12 states still had the ban on the books into the 1970s, though the laws were legally unenforceable. Alabama removed its law from its books in November 2000.
So, while I understand the political reality of trying to allow gay marriage via state legislature votes (New York, et al.) and public referenda (Maine, et al.), the issue seems so self-evidently right and just that I had a twinge of judicial nostalgia.
No, the only judicial “activism” we get these days are cases such as Kelo v. City of New London (2005), in which the “liberals” on the court allowed the city to use eminent domain to take private property and sells it for private development. I expressed my serious doubts about this case at the time. Turns out that the whole imbroglio ended up being a big money LOSER for New London.
I think gay marriage and other gay rights, such as ENDA will come about throughout the United States. But I’m now pretty convinced that gay marriage nationally will take another generation, another 20 years, to be fully realized. Maybe longer. And it makes me more than a little sad.
The New York Times was Live-Blogging the Gay Marriage Vote in New York State. State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., one of the eight Democrats voting against the bill, is quoted as saying, “If you put this issue before the voters in a referendum, the voters will reject it.”. Probably true. But as some letter-writer noted, “I wish someone would ask Mr. Diaz if he thinks the civil rights acts of the 1960’s should have been put up for popular votes in the states.” As I said, just is just.