Responding to the California Supreme Court’s decision yesterday overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage, congressional conservatives attacked the decision by calling it the result of “unelected judges” turning over the will of the people.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the House Minority Whip, charged in a statement that “unelected judges” are trying to “substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people”:
Today, the decision of unelected judges to overturn the will of the people of California on the question of same-sex marriage demonstrates the lengths that unelected judges will go to substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people.
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), piled on, saying that “unelected judges” had “irresponsibly decided to legislate from the bench.”
But, in making their rush to judgment about the CA decision, both Blunt and Feeney have the basic facts wrong about how California’s judicial system works. SmartVoter.org, a resource of the League of Women’s Voters, makes clear that California’s Supreme Court justices are “confirmed by the public at the next general election” after being appointed and “justices also come before voters at the end of their 12-year terms.”
In fact, each of the seven justices involved in yesterday’s decision were approved by California voters by overwhelming margins:
- Justice Joyce L. Kennard confirmed in 2006 with 74.5% of the vote.
- Justice Carol A. Corrigan confirmed in 2006 with 74.4% of the vote.
- Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar confirmed in 2002 with 74.1% of the vote.
- Justice Carlos R. Moreno confirmed in 2002 with 72.6% of the vote.
- Justice Marvin R. Baxter confirmed in 2002 with 71.5% of the vote.
- Justice Ronald M. George confirmed in 1998 with 75.5% of the vote.
- Justice Ming William Chin confirmed in 1998 with 69.3% of the vote.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder notes that Feeney’s statement on the decision also engages in “coded gay baiting” when he informs “Florida’s hardworking families” that he “will continue to fight to prevent San Francisco taxes and values from infiltrating our community.”