September 1st, 2010
For 25 years Sandra Day O’Connor’s opinion mattered more than just about anyone in the country. Appointed in 1981 to be the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, O’Connor was positioned such that half the court was more conservative and half the court was less so. There were very few decisions in which O’Connor was on the losing side and a great many where her judicial thinking determined the course of the nation’s laws.
Upon retiring, O’Connor was asked what she predicted for the court in the 21st Century. The jurist replied that just as matters of race had dominated the court during the 20th Century, the upcoming years would focus on matters of sexual orientation.*
Now, even though she has stepped down from the SCOTUS, O’Connor will be – at least tangentially – addressing same sex marriage.
After the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously found for marriage equality, anti-gay voices have been calling for their heads. Three are up for re-confirmation this year, and there is a campaign to vote them out.
Some argue that the current method of judicial selection – the governor selects from a list of potential jurists who have been vetted by a State Judicial Nominating Committee – leaves judges “unaccountable to the people”. Some, such as conservative Alabama jurist Tom Parker, have gone so far as to argue that Iowa should adopt Alabama’s practice of having their judges run for office and make decisions based on partisan maneuvering and campaign promises rather than on the protections in the state constitution.
That is why it is so important the people insist they be allowed to select those who sit on the bench over them. If judges want to be “super legislators,” then they must stand before their constituents and tell them what they believe about the Constitution as it relates to current public policy debates.
Next week the Iowa State Bar Association will host a panel to discuss judicial appointment, and O’Connor will come to advocate for experience, temperament, and merit as qualifiers rather than populist appeal.
Sandra Day O’Connor will take part in a panel discussion Sept. 8 advocating judge retention based on merits rather than political whim.
O’Connor’s visit next month will be held at Hotel Fort Des Moines. The specifics of the panel discussion, hosted by the Iowa State Bar Association, have not been finalized, said Steve Boeckman, a spokesman for the association, which is one of the hosts of the forum.
“It’s on the merit selection of judges in the state,” Boeckman said. “That’s one of her issues. She’s a proponent of using a merit selection system rather than an election system for judges.”
I don’t know if O’Connor will speak to the wisdom of the court’s decision or even her opinion on the federal constitutionality of anti-gay state amendments. But I find it likely that she will address the campaign to remove the justices from the bench.
And I have to say that I agree with her that the people are best served by having one governmental branch that is not subject to the whim of the latest political trend or the most affluent contributor.
Let’s not forget that “standing before their constituents” may well result in putting Sharron Angle in the US Senate.
* – I’m recalling this from memory, but I cannot, for the life of me, find the interview in which she said this. I would greatly appreciate anyone who has the source.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.