Barbara Boxer

Judge Blocks Calif. Proposition That Would Allow Folks to Flat-Out Murder Gay People

The initiative had no chance, but did the ruling jump the gun?

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Rude! Somebody needs a good spanking.
Credit: Elvert Barnes / photo on flickr

Sorry, Californians. You won't get the chance to vote on a ballot initiative to call for my execution. A state judge yesterday afternoon ruled that Attorney General Kamala Harris didn't have to move forward with preparing a submitted ballot initiative that demanded the execution of all gay people in the state and would have additionally authorized citizens to take matters into their own hands.

Judge Raymond M. Cadei ruled that Harris did not have to give the so-called "Sodomite Suppression Act" an official title and summary to prepare for its proponent, attorney Matthew McLaughlin, to attempt to collect signatures, because the initiative is "patently unconstitutional on its face," Cadei wrote. Forcing Harris to prepare it for circulation would "waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate." A ballot initiative misleading the electorate? No way!

There was obviously no way the Sodomite Suppression Act would ever be implemented as law even if McLaughlin collected enough signatures (if he even planned to actually try to do so—he has been completely silent over the matter, suggesting he had no intention of actually doing anything to get his own initiative passed).

But there are concerns by folks—who presumably do not want to chop up gay people and feed them into woodchippers—about how this decision has played out. An elected official and a judge worked together to shut down a citizen's participation in California's system of direct democracy legislation right at the start. In this case, it's extremely clear that the initiative was unconstitutional. But most initiatives are not so clear. What if this becomes a habit? From The Sacramento Bee:

In response to Monday's decision, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog agreed that "there is obviously no gray area" in the fact that murder is illegal. But she worried about a precedent of attorneys general going to the courts to block other ballot initiatives with a similar argument.

"I do worry that it opens the door for another attorney general to decide another issue they don't like is unconstitutional, be it campaign contributions and the First Amendment or what happened in Proposition 8," which outlawed same-sex marriage, Carmen Balber said. "It's a disturbing slippery slope."

Far better, Balber said, would be if Harris had issued the title and summary and then courts had invalidated the proposition after a private citizen launched a legal challenge.

"The attorney general is supposed to do her job," Balber said, "and someone else can sue to stop it."

Harris, a Democrat who is running to succeed the retiring Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, no doubt has her eye on the kind of publicity she would get if she did nothing and let the initiative play itself out. Not everybody has such a nuanced grasp of how the complex ballot initiative system should work, and given the outrageousness of the example, it's questionable whether people see the "slippery slope" possibility here.

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  1. You won’t get the chance to vote on a ballot initiative to call for my execution.

    Damn, I would have moved back for that opportunity!

    1. I’ll take you to Mastro’s. Your choice of steak.

      1. Your youngest child looks mighty plump and tasty. Well-marbled.

        1. We should not be greasing the slippery slope. Save the grease for……..something else.

    2. Give some credit. At least it was mildly more amusing than “As a gay man myself…”

    3. You won’t get the chance to vote on a ballot initiative to call for my execution.

      I don’t need no ballot initiative to call for your execution.

      Execute the Cosmos!

  2. Obviously, the State of California should allow this initiative to reach the ballot, so everybody who votes for it can be rounded up and sent to summer school.

    1. So what’s the problem with this? They feed them three meals daily!

  3. Scott, would the law, if passed, require you to kill yourself (knowing what you know about yourself) or would it just make it legal to do so but not required? To my knowledge, suicide is illegal in California, but I assume this would trump that like it would trump murder? Because man, if you were required to kill yourself but didn’t, I can’t imagine what the punishment would be.

    1. Make it legal to kill gays, not require that they be killed. Essentially it would make homosexuals ‘outlaws’ in the *olde* sense – outside the law and not protected by it.

      1. Teachers’ Unions before Gays, then. WAY before.

      2. As progressives have no souls, I see a similar program for them.

  4. This really shows what a low opinion or Intellectual Superiors have of the general public. I mean:

    “Forcing Harris to prepare it for circulation would “waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public, and tend to mislead the electorate.””

    How would this ‘generate unnecessary divisions among the public’ or ‘mislead the electorate?’

    “Should we execute all the gay people” is a pretty straight forward proposition that has no chance whatsoever of succeeding. It would fail like 97%-3%. For Christ’s sake, it’s called the Sodomite Suppression Act.

    The only way you could think something this horrible would ‘divide’ the public or ‘mislead’ anyone is if you assume voters are a) complete morons or b) so evil that they’d love a chance to murder some gays – which strikes me as somewhat unlikely in 2015 California.

    1. Prop 40 may have them thinking up is down, yes is no.

    2. The only way you could think something this horrible would ‘divide’ the public or ‘mislead’ anyone is if you assume voters are a) complete morons or b) so evil that they’d love a chance to murder some gays

      A: These are California voters we’re talking about.

      B: So they’ve locked up the wannabe-cop vote then.

    3. I’m willing to bet an initiative allowing for the execution of cis white males would pass first.

    4. “”Should we execute all the gay people” is a pretty straight forward proposition that has no chance whatsoever of succeeding.”

      Or, if it has a chance, the Gays should know so they can start arming themselves, or barricading San Fran, or running.

    5. I can see where “b” in your statement is unlikeley but, having watched Californians vote, I’m not so certain about “a”.

  5. Initiative is a crappy progressive-era idea that deserves to die. The people are stupid.

      1. Yeah, I don’t trust stuff like that. Since you can cut a video however you want, he could have asked 1000 people, gotten got 20 people who weren’t paying attention to say yes, and then only shown those 20 people.

        1. Of course it’s a joke. Even so, portable chemical weapons lab wasn’t.

        2. Since you can cut a video however you want, he could have asked 1000 people, gotten got 20 people who weren’t paying attention to say yes, and then only shown those 20 people.

          If you did it at Union Station in Chicago during rush hour you could probably get into the hundreds of signatories in within an hour.

          They’d all be “Tyler Durden”, “John Hancock”, and “Jane Doe”, but you’d have thousands of people, on camera, going “Mmhmm… yeah.” and signing your petition as they walk away from you.

          The problem would be the other way, picking the 20 that looked the least dismissive while signing your petition.

    1. So are CA legislators.

  6. The most dangerous fabulous game: gay man

    1. I larfed.

      1. I expect a hat tip when you use it.

        1. What did the leper say to the prostitute?

          Keep the tip.

          1. Did you hear about the blind prostitute?

            You’ve really got to hand it to her.

    2. Its too easy – how challenging could it be to track game that is wearing brightly colored, sequined clothing and yelling ‘yoo-hoo!’ and ‘hey thailor!’ every time they see a dude?

      1. Stop stealing my thoughts.

      2. Plus, there’s like, GAYDAR, hello!

  7. AG kinnath: We have a system of laws that gives citizens like Matthew McLaughlin a right to submit ballot initiatives to the public for signatures. I trust the people of this state to treat the initiative with all the respect it deserves. Scratch that. I trust the people of this state to treat the resulting ballot initiative with all the respect it deserves. Scratch that. I trust the judicial system to treat the resulting law with the all the respect it deserves. Fuck it. I’m moving to the mountains and getting a bunch of guns.

    1. And even if all that fails – I trust the court (as little as I trust them) to have enough sense to rule the thing unconstitutional the second a challenge is brought. And I would expect that all the paperwork would be done and a guy ready to file, standing by at the court, while the results came in.

      1. Even the despicable have the right to use the system as it was designed to be used.

      2. Even the despicable have the right to use the system as it was designed to be used.

        1. The squirrels agree that this should be emphasized.

          1. The squirrels are despicable.

          2. How about a Squirrel Suppression Act?

            1. squirrel + woodchipper == red mist

              1. squirrel + woodchipper == red mist

                What? You threaten the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel? That’s a much more serious offense than making fun of a federal judge! Endangered species act etc. You are in deep trouble now, Mister! Name? Rank? Department?

      3. People who submit petitions like this should be… (something, something hyperbolic and strictly rhetorical, invoking my constitutional right to free expression and fair comment on a matter of pubic concern).

        1. Sure, yeah, I trust the court….

      4. The problem with waiting for the courts to overturn something is that someone has to be fucked over by the law before the court has standing. For the courts to overturn a ‘kill all gays law’ some gay guy has to be killed. And for more fun, the gay guys relatives have to have the financial and legal wherewithal to bring the suit. SO there’s a risk of a lot of poor gay gays dying before the necessary rich and connected guy’s relatives can bring the suit to stop the bad law.

        1. I don’t think gays would have much to worry about. After all, technically it was still legal to kill a Mormon in Missouri until 1976.

          1. And in Idaho until around 1990. Even though Idaho has a significant Mormon population.

          2. But that’s exactly the point. The courts will let an obviously bad law fester on the books forever unless or until someone violates it (and is charged) or (in this case) murders someone. whole books have been written about absurd, stupid and downright strange laws that are still on the books. My favorite is: it’s illegal to put weasels down your pants for the purpose of gambling in Louisiana. Makes you wonder what strange-ass (most definitely drunken) goings-on caused that bit of legislation to seem necessary.

  8. Sounds like the folks from Gomorrah are getting off lightly – are we going after them next?

  9. Judge Blocks Calif. Proposition That Would Allow Folks to Flat-Out Murder Gay People

    It wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway, because we all know that gays in California can arm themselves to protect their lives against this kind of “Purge”-like initiatives and….

    …hmm. It’s California, right?

    Uh, welcome to Texas, gays!

  10. First official woodchipper reference since the Incident?

    1. I noticed it too. A historical* moment.

      *The “modern” English apparently tells me to write “an historical”. But the hell with that, it sounds stupid and violates one of the few iron rules of the English language.

      1. Would you ask a salesperson to sell you “an” history book?

      2. Would you ask a salesperson to sell you “an” history book?

  11. Kamala Harris is an opportunistic piece of shit who had to be shamed by Judge Alex Kozinski into releasing an obviously innocent man from prison.

    1. Don’t be too hard on her….she’s pretty!

  12. “I do worry that it opens the door for another attorney general to decide another issue they don’t like is unconstitutional, be it campaign contributions and the First Amendment or what happened in Proposition 8,”

    This is the shit judges are *supposed* to take into consideration when giving in to a government request.

    Not just how will my ruling affect the case before me, but how it will affect similar cases in the future. And, personally, I don’t find ‘saving the government time, money, and effort’ to be a convincing rationale justifying this acquiescence.

  13. GOD HATES SHACK

      1. Shaq is an instrument of divine torment (just watch his movies if you don’t believe me)

        1. Shaq is an instrument of divine torment (just watch his movies if you don’t believe me)

          It’s like you have never watched Kazaam. Or Steel.

          1. Are you saying you like those movies?

              1. well, not now!

        2. Maybe his movies were bad, but Shaq Fu was one of the greatest things to come out of the 1990s.

        3. God’s lessons are beautiful!

    1. “GOD HATES SHACK”

      I don’t think so, Warty.
      I have it on good authority that the Increate made this just so Scott could have a good laugh.

      I know, I know – I’m a horrible person.

      1. You’re horrible for SFing that link.

      2. Horrible at links. OOOH BURNNN

  14. Why not? Every other right I have seems to be up for debate and vote.

  15. Well, at least cops can still kill whoever. And dogs.

  16. Why would you chop something up before feeding it into the chipper? That’s like washing your dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher.

    1. Well, they’re kinda heavy, the pieces are lighter. Plus, it allows for the use of the chainsaw.

      Disclaimer – To any US Government officials reading this – this was an act of sarcasm. While you may not know much about humor, it’s quite common in the internet.

    2. If your dishwasher is acting like a wood chipper, you need a service call.

      1. Naw, that’s more benefits than Carlos contracted for. He’ll have to muddle through it or quit.

      2. It’s all academic as I eat off paper plates which I mill myself out of trees from my yard.

  17. Numero uno, this proposal needs to be killed *a lot,* defeated overwhelmingly, but by the voters, not the courts.

    Numero two-o, shutting down the initiative process is wrong.

    Numero three-o, the sponsor of this initiative seems to me to be the trolliest troll since trolls came to trolltown. He couldn’t be any more trollish if he were living under a bridge and trying to eat the Billy Goats Gruff.

    1. You haven’t played ‘World of Warcraft’ have you? This guy is an amateur. Just on a larger scope.

  18. Freedom of political expression is fine in theory, but let’s be serious. The next thing you know, somebody will want to put an initiative on the ballot calling for the elimination of CARB, and that is a risk a civilized society cannot afford to take.

  19. Forcing Harris to prepare it for circulation would “waste public resources, …

    But didn’t it waste the resources of the judge and his staff in responding to the argument?

    I think the judge and Ms. Harris should determine their costs and compare.

  20. Hmm, I guess I have to come out in support of this action. We libertarians are always talking about the dangers of pure democracy and the need for constitutional limits on what the people can vote into place. This is what we libertarians asked for.

    1. And, I should add, enforcing constitutional constraints is exactly what the courts are there for.

      1. And I agree, sort of.

        But we don’t have a system where the courts enforce constitutional constraints *before* legislation is passed.

        Personally, I think the courts should review passed legislation for constitutionality before it is enacted – but that ain’t the system we got.

        The thing is, this case is a mixed bag. The judge is correct *for this case* – which features a blatantly unconstitutional law to be voted on – but its going to be harder in the future for a court to say ‘no, AG Woodchipper, *this* ballot initiative is not going to get squashed because its not completely clear that what’s proposed is unconstitutional’.

        And AG’s and politicians in general will take any inch you give them and try to turn it into a mile.

        1. I don’t know much about California’s constitution. Does the governor have a veto over legislation passed by ballot?

          1. No, the guv does not. A ballot initiative has the full force of a statute or a constitutional amendment, depending on which was chosen.

        2. Good arguments.

          I guess the idea of early weeding out initiatives that wouldn’t pass muster if passed appeals to me because I’m a Californian and have to endure ballots with long lists of stupid initiatives.

          1. As I always say, idiots abound,

  21. An elected official and a judge worked together to shut down a citizen’s participation in California’s system of direct democracy legislation right at the start. In this case, it’s extremely clear that the initiative was unconstitutional. But most initiatives are not so clear. What if this becomes a habit

    Christ on a Crutch! The Slippery slope argument for a piece of self evident, rabid moonbattery? Give me a break.

    1. All expansions of government power are started by a single step down a slippery slope.

      1. This wouldn’t be a ‘step’, it would be a rocket-assisted jump.

  22. who presumably do not want to chop up gay people and feed them into woodchippers

    Ha, well-done Shackford. But in my inimitable, joke-ruining way, I must point out that the point of feeding something into a woodchipper is that the machine does the chopping; no pre-processing required.

    1. Well, most people don’t have those big woodchippers that will accommodate a whole tree or human body. So for practical purposes, most people will have to either rent a bog one or do some pre-processing.

  23. “because the initiative is “patently unconstitutional on its face,”

    Bullshit. It is wildly politically incorrect. The constitutionality or morality don’t enter into it. If it did 3/4 or more of the laws in the US would be struck down.

    1. Agreed.

      If Constitutionality gets involved it will have to be expanded to make it legal to murder all sodomites, gay or straight, equally in all 50 States.

  24. Are we not supposed to trust democracy? Sorry, I mean TRUST DEMOCRACY.

  25. “In response to Monday’s decision, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog agreed that “there is obviously no gray area” in the fact that murder is illegal.”

    But murder being illegal is a law, and this ballot measure would effectively be a modification of that law. So what’s wrong with that?

    Now it is clearly unconstitutional because it treats gays differently, but I wouldn’t call it illegal.

    /pedranty mode

    1. Yeah, if the ballot measure passed it wouldn’t be murder anymore.

  26. God Forbid common sense prevails…..

    1. … ensuring that this thread does not result in another subpoena.

  27. How about an add on giving all gay Californians an AR-15 and 5000 rounds of ammo.

    1. And armour for the wood chippers.

      1. Pink armor, with tassels!

  28. Presumably the Attorney General of California took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of California and of the United States and therefore had an obligation to challenge the proposition rather than act as a mere functionary. As for the potential of abuse, that’s what appellate courts are for.

    1. Agreed.

    2. Where is it in the CA or US Constitutions that requires her to challenge a citizen initiative?

      1. I don’t have the official decision by the CA judge so I don’t know precisely what was argued but endorsement of religion is the first one that leaps to mind.

        The proposition included the following clauses:

        a) The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.

        b) Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God’s just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.

        US Const Amend I (made applicable to the states via US Const Amend XIV)

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

        Cal.Const. Art. 1, ? 4

        The Legislature shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

        There are also equal protection and due process issues with this as a statute as well.

  29. I don’t really have a problem with denying people the opportunity to vote on a law that cannot morally or legally ever be implemented. Not allowing people to murder each other is sort of the number one obligation of any state that wants to have any kind of legitimacy, if you think that states have any legitimacy at all.

  30. A court blocked the potential passage of an obviously, blatantly illiberal law by popular vote?

    I’m sorry, but isn’t that exactly how constitutional democracy is supposed to work–the populace enjoys popular sovereignty in principle, but its authority is not absolute (any more than a monarch’s power in a constitutional monarchy is absolute) since certain types of laws are ruled out by basic codes built into the legal system.

    I’m not seeing the problem here.

    1. Agreed.

    2. Prior Restraint, is the problem.
      For all we know, the voters could have rejected this proposal, and ridden the advocates out of town on a rail.
      Now, we’ll never know, and this will just be another in a long list of festering sores created by an Imperial Judiciary (there are still a lot of people upset about Prop-14 back in the 60’s).

  31. Finish this sentance…

    “Be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting … “

    1. Woodchippers?

  32. I feel like this case highlighted the ridiculousness that is California initiative process. Do initiatives have a place? Yes. But California has taken this to the extreme.

    Don’t like that the legislature thinks your proposal is a budget-buster, logistically infeasible and/or just patently stupid and you can’t even get it out of committee? Don’t worry! No need to amend it or make a compromise. Take it to the people and highlight how it’ll protect the children or something and it’s sure to get 50%+1. You can even include provisions requiring a super-majority to amend or repeal it!

    That your state now has a budget that is screwed, is tasked with implementing a program that is literally impossible to implement, and/or is doing something patently stupid… not your problem!

    1. “That your state now has a budget that is screwed, is tasked with implementing a program that is literally impossible to implement, and/or is doing something patently stupid… ”

      The legislature can do (and has done) this all on its own, without voter initiatives.

    2. Not to mention the legislature themselves can put them on the ballot, so they do things like putting the Funds For Our Schools initiative on the ballot to cover spending that should be in the basic budget while they quietly budget handouts for their cronies back in Sacramento.

    3. About fifteen years ago, WA voters got fed up with a punitive excise tax on motor vehicle licensing that, for example, require roughly $200 in fees annually to license an eight year old Honda Accord. The legislature wouldn’t do a goddamned thing about it. So an initiative made it onto the ballot that rolled license tab fees back to a flat $32. It also had a provision requiring any tax increases to have a supermajority vote in the legislature to pass. Which of course sent the state assembly into orbit. Nevertheless, it passed overwhelmingly.

      Under the state constitution, initiatives could not have two separate provisions, so the assembly sued and got it overturned. At this pin there was massive public backlash building. Not wanting to have their balls collectively cut off at the next election, the legislature passed the car tab rollback, but not the tax rule. This was enough to get the voters off their backs for awhile.

      Without the initiative process those assholes would NEVER have reduced license fees. Ever.

      1. Without the initiative process California would not have the high-speed rail fiasco.

    4. Extreme measures are required when you have an “extreme legislature”.

  33. Next thing we’re doing is classifying this guy ‘Matthew McLaughlin’ as legal game, right?

    Right?

  34. So, the Initiative process (brought about by Progressives to make an end-run around a non-responsive government by the citizenry) is shut down by a non-responsive government because the subject is “icky”?
    Do the words “prior restraint” mean anything?
    What is next on their “you can’t do that because…..Shut Up” list?

    1. Isn’t Prior Restraint a legal term having to do with freedom of expression rather than lawmaking?

  35. The thing is, lawful killing is not murder. If it were, every state executioner would wind up on the wrong side of the bars on death row and there would be no such thing as lethal force self defense.

    As such, an initiative to legalize certain types of killing is not prohibited by existing laws against murder.

  36. Is there a chance for appeal? Because there’s obviously a need to prevent ridiculous initiatives such as this, but the only way to do so is via courts or a higher number of signatures required. Both are obviously less democratic, but necessary. A court system w/ at least 2 minimum layers (one original, one for appeals) seems to be the most obvious way to remove blatantly-unconstitutional initiatives.

  37. “…it’s questionable whether people see the “slippery slope” possibility here.”

    You know you are writing about kalifornia grubers here – the same idiots who keep re-electing the same political idiots who have destroyed the kalifornia economy, increased unemployment, and done nothing to ease the effects of the drought. They’d rather spend money on high speed rail to nowhere.

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