Monday, October 17, 2005

Robed Hypocrites

Section 8. Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.—

Section 18. Private property or services taken for public use. Private property shall not be taken for public use, nor the particular services of any man be demanded, without just compensation…

Section 20. Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens. No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.—

Read the above three clauses in Oregon’s constitution. The courts in Oregon are so inconsistent in how they treat these clauses that it would be funny if it weren’t doing so much damage to our state.

The recent Supreme Court decision that said live sex shows are protected speech had to somehow make the argument that a paid sex act constitutes “expression of opinion.” Just what opinion might that be? Any reasonable person who reads Section 8 must conclude that the framers were referring to written and spoken opinion, not lewd acts. Yet the courts are so in love with the free speech rights that they expansively interpret it.

Not so with our property rights. If they can do the mental contortion necessary to convince themselves that a live sex act is an expression of opinion, then certainly they could be equally protective of our right to property, say, by acknowledging that regulating the entire productive use of your land away in order to achieve some public purpose just might be a “taking.”

But no, the courts care not a whit about property rights, so they narrowly construe the definition so as to allow government to steal property value again and again.

Then look at the privileges and immunities clause – this is the main argument Judge James had when throwing out Measure 37. Imagine if she applied the same criteria she used to throw out M37 to the very land use laws she was trying to protect?

Having an urban growth boundary that restricts development outside – doesn’t that inherently grant some citizens (those who own the land inside the boundaries) privileges that are denied to others (those with land outside)? Of course.

Would the courts in Oregon EVER make this argument? Of course not! They don’t believe in property rights, at least they don’t believe in them when the “community” wants to steal them. So they won’t protect them.

They aren’t really judges – they are politicians with political viewpoints and are perfectly willing to use their offices to further their political ideology, regardless of what the constitution actually says.

We are in a sorry state with judges like these.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The principle that holds us together as a people, it seems to me, is the democratic principle of majority rule. Majority rule (reflected in the laws enacted by our democratically-elected representatives or the people themselves, as in the case of measure 37) should be enforced by the courts, unless a clear constitutional principle is violated by a law under review.

Oregon courts have followed the the federal courts in their willingness to substitute judges' judgment for that of our elected representatives, under the flimsy guise of enforcing constitutional limitations. This is frightenly undemocratic, and the lefties are a bunch of hypocrites for supporting the courts on this, because they generally like the results the courts are delivering, at the expense of the laws our legislators (or, in the case of measure 37, the people themselves) have enacted. If people lose faith that we live in a majority-rule society, the glue that holds us together could weaken.

This shouldn't be about the merits of what the judges have decided. You should be troubled by this regardless of how you feel about lap dancing or abortion or property rights. To illustrate that this can cut both ways, I wonder how the supporters of Roe vs. Wade would have felt if Justice Blackman had opined that abortion could not be legal in any state, despite laws in a state permitting it, under the "penumbra" of the due process clause (no person shall be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law)?

Both sides of the political spectrum should be wary of what the courts are doing. If you're a righty, your ox is being gored now. If you're a lefty, yours may be next.