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Old 11-12-2006, 02:57 AM   #16
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If everything was up to a vote, Rosa Parks would probably still be at the back of that bus.
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Old 11-12-2006, 08:43 AM   #17
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Originally posted by anitram
If everything was up to a vote, Rosa Parks would probably still be at the back of that bus.
Isnt she dead now ?

I studied her in History class and it was remarkable.
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Old 11-12-2006, 10:15 AM   #18
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Yeah, Rosa Parks died last year.

It's certainly true that most of the freedoms secured by the Civil Rights Movement were not won by putting them up for a vote at the local or state level, however, many of them were subjected to a vote federally (the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, Voting Rights Act of 1965, 24th Amendment etc.). Obviously the federal government had to be nudged to vote on these (and even then enforcing them in the South required calling in the National Guard more than once), but nonetheless, they did still have to be voted on. In the case of federal guarantees for same-sex unions or marriages, the Defense of Marriage Act (1996) is currently standing in the way of Congress taking a stance on this issue--same-sex marriage is federally framed at this point as a question for states to decide.

The Civil Rights Movement also secured many victories through Supreme Court rulings (Brown v. Board of Education, Boynton v. Virginia, upholding Browder v. Gary--which resulted from the Montgomery Bus Boycott that Parks inaugurated), but again in the case of same-sex unions, the precedent set by Baker v. Nelson (1971; appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court 1972) is currently standing in the way of SCOTUS taking a postion on state court rulings on this issue.

So I can kind of see where both sides are coming from here--current federal law leaves the question of how to handle same-sex unions up to the states, and in the apparent absence of federal political will to change this situation via Congressional legislation or Supreme Court litigation, all that really leaves open is the state-level route. Perhaps the don't-put-it-to-a-vote argument simply means to say that state court litigation is the best way to go? I'm inclined to agree with that assessment, but given how many rights inherent in (opposite-sex) marriage pertain to federal law, it's hard to imagine that putting it up to a vote at the federal level isn't going to be necessary at some point.
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Old 11-12-2006, 03:00 PM   #19
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Could you please elaborate?

Also, how many of the 170,000 signatures would you consider to be illegitimate?
I don't consider myself qualified to make an estimate of a number, but would you like me to cite a number less than 105k so you can come back and say the threshold was 65k? Anyway, only 130k or so of those signitures were validated; I hate when people use the higher number though many times it contains duplicates, non-residents, etc.

As for a source, you should look into the work done by KnowThyNeighbor and MassEquality on the legitimacy of the petitioners' methods.
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Old 11-12-2006, 10:05 PM   #20
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Originally posted by yolland


It's certainly true that most of the freedoms secured by the Civil Rights Movement were not won by putting them up for a vote at the local or state level, however, many of them were subjected to a vote federally (the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, Voting Rights Act of 1965, 24th Amendment etc.).
Yes, but these votes came after (in some instances up to 10-15 YEARS) the Supreme Court "intervened" and participated in judicial review. That is an incredibly important, underlying point here. The judiciary's rulings are what gave rise to the subsequent votes, and not the other way around, which is what is being advocated on this thread.
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Old 11-12-2006, 10:44 PM   #21
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As a point of strategy I agree, but it isn't true that all provisions covered by Civil Rights legislation had already been covered by judicial review. To take just one example, the Supreme Court case which declared the segregation of privately owned public accommodations unconstitutional--Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964)--was actually brought in response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned such segregation. (Brown v. Board of Education, by contrast, applied only to public schools.) This is why I was saying federal legislation will surely be necessary at some point. But as a general principle, I agree that litigation will be necessary to get the process started.
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Old 11-12-2006, 10:48 PM   #22
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But what lead to the enactment of that Act? The judiciary certainly paved the way, so you can't look at individual cases brought in response to the Act without then considering what lead to the Act being passed in the first place. I know you can probably go endlessly like his - how far back do we go?

I just don't believe that constitutional issues should be up for a majority vote. The courts are the best arbiters of what laws are constitutional, not the general public. A good example is how gay marriage came to be accepted in Canada: it was the Supreme Court ruling that largely legitimized the issue in the eyes of the public so that the legislatures acted in response, and not the other way around.
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Old 11-12-2006, 10:53 PM   #23
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Let's not forget that the foundations for civil rights, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, were basically only passed through blackmail against the former Confederate states. In order for them to be readmitted into the union, they had to be ratified by each state.

So, basically, the American civil rights movement has been based on blackmail and "judicial activism." If it were up to a vote, we'd still have slavery in this country.
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Old 11-12-2006, 11:15 PM   #24
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A good example is how gay marriage came to be accepted in Canada: it was the Supreme Court ruling that largely legitimized the issue in the eyes of the public so that the legislatures acted in response, and not the other way around.
Yeah, but was there an equivalent precedent to Baker v. Nelson that had to be overturned first? That's such a point-specific ruling; it's not really comparable to something like Plessy v. Ferguson which could be (and was) chipped away at piece by piece over time. I'm guessing that marriage law is much more of a federal affair to begin with in Canada than it is here, and that's a big part of the problem.

I don't know that I'm really arguing for anything different than you are in the big picture, but I guess I'm a lot less optimistic about the prospect for federal-level change--whether through SCOTUS or Congress--at this point.
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