The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 29, 2013

People can be ruled or governed


The Mankato Free Press

---- — I offer my early layman's opinion on the California Proposition 8 case of Hollingsworth V. Perry wherein the U.S. Supreme Court held they would not decide the California same sex marriage case on its merits.

For some background, the ballot initiative process was created so citizens of a state do not have to rely only on elected representatives to create new laws, repeal existing laws, change the state constitution, or approve a bond measure.

When the voters of a state pass a ballot initiative by majority vote an individual citizen adversely effected can sue the state to have it overturned. The state can either defend, or refuse to defend the ballot initiative.

In Hollingsworth the state refused to defend the law so the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, held individual private citizens do not have legal standing to replace the state and defend a suit when the state will not. The Supreme Court held the intermediate federal court of appeals had no legal force in the case and sent the case back to that court with instructions to dismiss the case.

As a proponent of states rights I agree with the 5-4 majority decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Hollingsorth. But I think this ruling should be a warning to state voters in coming elections. Regardless of how you might feel about a specific case, the way I see it the critical question is: Do we want to elect people unwilling to defend laws passed by the majority of the governed, or elect people who will defend laws passed by the majority of the governed i.e. do we prefer to be ruled or governed?

Bob Jentges

North Mankato