I do not think this is good. Not because I'm against gay marriage: I support it firmly. Nor do I fully disagree with the Equal-Protection rationale that the court will likely use to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. But I am afraid of our democracy's reliance on unelected judges to decide pressing social issues.
Gay marriage is one of the sharpest points of moral dispute facing the country. And its very importance gives our democracy the opportunity to do its best work: the citizens of each state can decide which moral commitments they're going to make, and elect accountable representatives to enact their will. There's no one in charge but us: if we decide to recognize gay marriages, we'll do it. If we don't, we won't.
It's thus a serious problem when we submit the problem to the Supreme Court, composed though it is of the nine wisest scholars in the land. When we do that, the moral question goes out of our hands, and even though we might like the public policy that results, we buy it at the price of our democratic autonomy. Advocacy groups, instead of pressing for good legislative policy, invest in convoluted legal campaigns to influence a panel of sages who are out of their control. And instead of deciding what they want for themselves and calling their legislators, citizens line up on First Street to hear the decree of the black-robed Pythoness.
|This is not what democracy looks like.|