Despite being in the opposite sides of the gay marriage issue, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Pres. Bush are both demonstrating a shocking disdain for our courts.
First Mayor Gavin Newsom was wrong to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before going to the courts. The law in California is crystal clear: Marriage is to be between a man and a woman. If the mayor thinks that law is unconstitutional, let him challenge it in the courts. The courts, and not an individual mayor should determine what the constitution means, but at least Newsom says he‘s willing to abide by court rulings.
On the other hand, the President Bush now trying to circumvent the courts altogether announcing today that he wants to take the extreme step of amending the constitution, so that the courts, including the U.S Supreme Court, never get to decide the issue. The constitution was created to be interpreted—not amended every time a president is unhappy with a court ruling or a mayor‘s action. That‘s why the framers made it so difficult to do. Two-thirds of both the House and the Senate have to approve it followed by three-quarters of the states. The president is using the constitution as a political tool.
Even if you‘re firmly opposed to same-sex marriages, you should also be firmly opposed to tinkering with the constitution. Let the president express his disdain for the San Francisco mayor and for the Massachusetts court by filing briefs, not by trying to assert the court‘s power.
Mayor Newsom complains that waiting for the courts to rule would mean same-sex couples might have to wait years to marry. The president says “activist courts leave him no choice but to pursue the amendment.” But what’s the rush? Why are they both unwilling to hear from the federal courts before screaming that "The sky is falling?"
The last constitutional amendment took almost 200 years to pass. It seems patience is essential not just in a marriage, but maybe in defining it as well.
'Closing Argument' is a a regular segment on which airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Dan Abrams is a lawyer, as well as the host of his own show about justice.