Skip to content

Category: Gay Rights

Judical Activism or Judicial Restraint?

“Judicial Activism” has long been a cause of political angst among ‘conservatives’. Recently ‘liberals’ have begun countering the ‘conservative’ critique of an activist judiciary by shifting the terms of the conversation — by asserting that ‘conservative’ judges are “activist” too and that ‘conservatives’ don’t really object to “activist” judges, per se, but merely to “activism” that results in decisions they don’t like.

The shift has been accomplished by a subtle re-definition of the term “judicial activism” to mean, not what it has traditionally meant to ‘conservatives’, but “any action taken by a judge to overrule a legislative or executive authority”.  By the new ‘liberal’ definition, an “activist judge” is any judge who “acts” to apply the constraints of law to the legislature or to the executive; and we must presume that any judge who is not “activist” is, therefore, “passive” — and that the ‘conservative’ ideal must be a judiciary of sycophantic wimps.

Leave a Comment

Domestic Partners Benefits

In the beginning of 1997 the government of San Francisco initiated a new policy: henceforth, all organizations which have any contractual relationship with the city must offer the same benefits to ‘domestic partners’ as they do to spouses. For the uninitiated, a ‘domestic partner’ is someone with whom you have a long-term, committed, live-in (but not legally-binding) relationship; in San Francisco this typically (but not necessarily) means a gay relationship for which a formal marriage is simply not available.

The policy is a noble attempt to reward loving, committed, stable relationships, whether or not they fit the traditional mold. It is also an act of hubris, perhaps even rising to the level of cultural imperialism: the law seeks to extend this policy beyond San Francisco to wherever any city contractor operates, from San Mateo, CA, to Atlanta, GA, to every major airport in the world (United Airlines, which has a major hub in San Francisco, is thereby considered to have a city contract, and was notified it must comply across the board), and even to the Vatican (the catholic church, which ducked the issue by offering benefits to “any member of an employee’s household”, operates much of the city’s social safety net). Imagine the citizens of Little Rock or Des Moines trying to enforce a ban on benefits for domestic partners in San Francisco…

Leave a Comment