Friday, January 21, 2005

The end of strict construction?

I must admit I've always been a bit befuddled by critiques of liberal activist judges. After all, I live in Texas. Most of my adult life, a good number of our judges have looked like Sharon Keller, Priscilla Owen and Alberto Gonzalez. The typical approach for appellate judges in this state is to choose the preferred policy outcome ahead of time - no liability for insurance companies, execute retarded people -- then manufacture some cockamamy argument to support it, to hell with the facts.

At least we're not alone. The Legal Reader quotes a gem of an Indiana Supreme Court opinion showing that, whether the liberal activist label was ever justified, today it's conservative judicial activism that's in vogue. Here's the court's ridiculous argument for refusing to allow recognition of gay marriages legally performed in other states:
when same-sex couples have sex, it can't cause accidental pregnancies. Indeed, when a same-sex couple wants to have a child, they have to make a concerted effort to have one, such as through adoption, assisted reproductive technology, or a surrogate. By making such a concerted effort, these couples have already demonstrated a strong commitment to having and raising children, so there is no need for the state's marriage laws to provide any extra encouragement.
The blogger's one-liner summary of the opinion's logic is spot on:
Indiana affords the benefits of marriage to heterosexuals because of their tendency to accidentally produce unwanted children, but denies these benefits to gays and lesbians because they tend to have children only when they really, really want them.
Read the opinion (pdf) for yourself, if you like. Honest, serious people, arguing in good faith, can disagree over whether gay people should be allowed to marry. Personally, I think it's a civil rights question. But if judges are going to manufacture such flimsy, spurious so-called legal arguments to support their positions, let's at least not pretend it's strict construction.

UPDATE: Indiana's Kemplog has more.

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