Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism—December 19

2002—On remand from a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that Erie’s ban on public nudity does not violate the First Amendment, the Pennsylvania supreme court rules (in Pap’s A.M. v. City of Erie) that the ban’s targeting of nude dancing violates the state constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression (which provides that “The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty”).

2008—Continuing his sabotaging of the California marriage laws that he is obligated to defend vigorously, California attorney general Jerry Brown files a brief attacking Proposition 8, the recently adopted ballot measure that amended California’s constitution to restore the state’s definition of marriage as a male-female union.

Brown offers the crackpot theory—beyond anything the opponents of Proposition 8 have argued and beyond the scope of the briefing that the Supreme Court invited—that the constitutional amendment effected by Proposition 8 somehow itself violates the state constitution.

Brown’s wackiness is too much even for some liberal law professors in California: one says that Brown’s argument “turns constitutional law on its head,” and another calls his position “extraordinary.”

2013—The five justices of the New Mexico supreme court unanimously rule (in Griego v. Oliver) that the New Mexico constitution requires that “same-gender couples” be allowed to marry.

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