Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mob Rule

I saw this below quote posted somewhere after the news initially broke that Proposition 8 in California was overturned:

“9th Circuit Court in California overturns the rights of the people in today’s ruling on gay marriage. Remember the time when a majority ruled in this country?”

And that got me thinking.
So many of our important human rights decisions in America’s history would likely not have ever been made if it had been put to a popular vote–or up to majority rule.
What if, in 1865, the abolition of slavery was put to a vote instead of the 13th amendment being added to the Constitution? What would the outcome have looked like if the Civil Rights Act of 1875 had been put to a majority rule vote? During World War I, blacks served in the United States Armed Forces in segregated units. Pressure to end racial segregation in the government grew among African Americans and progressives after the end of World War II. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the United States Armed Forces. Chances are that such an executive order at that time in American history never would have survived a popular vote by the majority rule. It is not a stretch to imagine what would have happened in the 1960′s if racial segregation was put to a vote instead of laws being passed against it. Such as with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I imagine that if that had been put to a “majority rule” popular vote back then — it never would have happened.
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Even if a lot of people within a given State want to, rights are not supposed to be put up for a vote.
“Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” (Prop. 8 Trial)

The bottom line is this, mob rule is no way to dictate the rules in any civilized society. So, whether it is DADT or DOMA, doing the right thing should not necessarily be up for a vote.

 prop 8