November’s California Bar Journal, the newspaper sent from the State Bar every month to all California lawyers, off-ledes with a story entitled “Chief justice: Initiative process has led to dysfunctional state.”
The Journal referred to Chief Justice George’s remarks as “unusually blunt.” George’s remarks seemed to indicate he thought reform was important. George is a Republican and was nominated by Governor Wilson for the Chief’s position. George also suggested that money, not merit, had more to do with initiatives passing.
George’s remarks may seem to some to have a tinge of “sour grapes” because he was the author of 2008’s landmark In re Marriage case that legalized marriage equality in California, only to have it reversed by the voters in November.
I believe in democracy. I am both an upper- and lower- case ‘d’ democrat. This means I don’t believe in rule by royalty. Just the same, it also means I do not believe in rule by the mob. These are not the same.
In particular it relates to the process by which laws are made. Democracy means people have the final power, but it is tempered by the wisdom of millenia to go through the process of elective assemblies. When even our state constitution can be amended by only a majority of voters who vote on a certain day-and it has been shown that even our most sacred rights, such as equal protection are subject to this-without much more deliberation than provocative television ads, it is not democracy, it is ochlocracy, mob rule.
This is not to suggest that our representative assemblies in this state are not also disfunctional and broken. But in my opinion, they need reform, not abolition.