A LOSS ON GAY RIGHTS
The “message” of the election last night was immediately said to be about the economy. Republicans preaching tax cuts and budget cuts prevailed in great numbers. But there was a message on social issues, too, especially on gay rights.
The most vivid sign came in Iowa, where the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2009 that the Iowa constitution protected the right of gay citizens to marry. Three of the seven justices on that court stood for a retention election last night, and all three were defeated. (I wrote about the campaign to oust them last week.) Terry Branstad, the Republican who won the governorship and who opposes same-sex marriage, will appoint their successors. It was the first time that any state Supreme Court justice had lost a retention election in Iowa.
The recall will not change the ruling in the marriage case (at least not immediately). But the message is clear. Judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage do so at great peril to their political futures. And the Tea Party and its allies, for all their talk about economics, are closely alligned with the social conservatives who dominate the Republican Party. The movement to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by Congressional vote may be another casualty of last night’s election.
This is a perfect illustration of why Supreme Court justices should be lifetime appointments, not elected positions.
The job status of judges who uphold the legal rights of an oppressed minority should not be subject to a vote by the public-majority that is doing the oppressing. That makes NO SENSE. (Unless you like oppression.)