Tuesday, May 1

Stop NC Amendment One

This is the letter to the editor I sent to the local paper concerning Amendment One. Visitors to the site from outside North Carolina can read about the ballot measure here. A very loud part of my brain is disappointed I took the high road:

The proponents of Amendment One claim the targets of the measure are fundamental threats to our country. They have an agenda, they say. They seek to undermine our society and must be denied. But they’re not talking about, or really concerned with, homosexuals. Amendment One targets judges.

The conservatives have zeroed in on “activist judges” -- by definition those who issue rulings you disagree with -- as the new shadowy menace to raise hackles and campaign funds. The argument claims activist judges will take any opportunity to strike down laws or create subjective legal precedents. To fight this, conservatives nationwide stack up redundant laws like a woodpile.

For instance, homosexual marriage is already illegal in NC. Conservatives fret that a hypothetical activist judge will overturn the existing law by citing the state constitution. Thus the constitution must be amended.

This paranoia over activist judges peppered the 2012 presidential campaign. In a March New Hampshire stump speech, Santorum called for activist judges be sent to Guam. On a December “Face the Nation,” New Gingrich called for U.S. Marshals to arrest judges and deliver them to subcommittee to defend “anti-American” rulings. During his November Iowa campaign, Governor Rick Perry advocated a constitutional amendment eliminating the standing “good behavior” tenure for federal judges. In 2004 and 2005, Ron Paul sponsored his We The People act to ban federal courts from presiding over social issues.

It might not be coincidence that none of these men are now the dominant GOP candidate. It’s awkward to promise to alter the constitution in order to prove your love for it.

An anti-judiciary amendment is a hard sell. Instead, the conservatives packaged their stance as a pro-marriage, anti-homosexual measure, allowing churches to carry the campaign with pastors issuing moral indictments. These same leaders failed to sway Rosman aldermen to vote against alcohol sales in February and are doubling down on Amendment One to establish their sway.

Brandishing homosexuals as campfire bogeymen to push this ballot measure is disingenuous, and using blockade measures to enforce judicial restraint inflates our law books. We deserve better from community leaders and legislators.

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