Conservative activist Janine Hansen today lashed out at Gov. Brian Sandoval for his decision to surrender the state’s defense of its gay marriage constitutional amendment in light of a new precedent-setting decision rendered by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Here’s her statement:
“The governor’s decision, not to defend Nevada’s marriage law, is a disgrace and a slap in the face to the nearly 70 percent of Nevada’s voters who voted in favor of marriage between a man and a woman. We no longer have a government by the people, but by the unelected federal judiciary. The governor has bowed to the judiciary and capitulated to the anti-family lobby in our state,” stated Janine Hansen, president [of] Nevada Families for Freedom.
“Governor Sandoval no longer represents the people in the state of Nevada and has abandoned the will of the people in favor of political expediency. Sandoval believes that he can ignore the pro-family voters in Nevada. Because of his huge war chest, he feels they will have no one else to support. I encourage all pro-family voters in Nevada to register their objections with their governor and to support someone else for governor who will represent the will of the people in Nevada,” continued Hansen.
“Once again we have been betrayed by our elected leaders. It is no wonder that the people have lost faith in the government. They do not represent us anymore,” concluded Janine Hansen.
Just a few things to note in reply:
- Sandoval is a lawyer, a former attorney general and a former United States District Court judge. He relied on the advice of Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, also a lawyer and a former federal prosecutor, to decide to drop the appeal. Their bi-partisan decision tells me they know a dead-bang loser of a case when they see one.
- Under Marbury v. Madison (1803), “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Courts striking down the unconstitutional acts of Congress, state legislatures and even the voters isn’t the usurpation that Hansen claims it is, but rather, it’s the established American system of government working precisely as it should.
- Under the Ninth Circuit’s precedent-setting opinion in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories, the state now faces a new and heightened level of scrutiny in defending its constitutional amendment (and statutory prohibition) banning gay marriage. The attorney general concluded — and the governor concurred — that their previous defense would simply not withstand that higher level of scrutiny.
- Even if the governor were to have made a political calculation in this case, it’s far more likely that the Nevada electorate in 2014 favors allowing gay marriage than is opposed to the practice. For example, a recent poll by the Retail Association of Nevada found that 57 percent of voters favor removing the ban on gay marriage from the state constitution. If anything, the state’s initial defense of the law went against the current will of the voters.
- Sandoval himself has been clear about his personal opposition to gay marriage. Abandoning a clearly doomed legal strategy doesn’t make him anti-family, or callous to the wishes of people who oppose gay marriage. It makes him a pragmatist who can recognize reality.
- People such as Janine Hansen seem to have lost faith in the government because they can no longer foist their will upon it. That’s certainly got to be a frustrating experience. But it doesn’t mean government is not working anymore, or that it’s not representing the vast majority of its citizens.