A law lesson for attorney general candidates from Cliff Jackson | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A law lesson for attorney general candidates from Cliff Jackson

Posted By on Wed, May 14, 2014 at 7:25 AM

CLIFF JACKSON
  • CLIFF JACKSON
I liked a letter to the editor from Cliff Jackson, a Hot Springs lawyer with a certain degree of notoriety for past political activities. He comments on the Republican primary race for attorney general and their woeful comments on constitutional law as applied in the famous same-sex marriage case. The floor to Cliff (a Rockefeller Republican back in the day and later a tormentor of Bill Clinton):

Regarding the same-sex marriage ruling, GOP Attorney General candidate David Sterling told the Hot Springs GOP: “what really offends me is the fact that he found that the constitutional provision was unconstitutional.”

Duh! The Civil War should have, but did not, settle the “states rights” argument that states can enact and enforce laws in violation or “nullification” of the federal Constitution and its rights. Only a Know Nothing demagogue appealing to the peanut gallery would contend otherwise. Does David Sterling not recall Orval Faubus and Central High School or the host of U.S. Supreme Court cases that he, as Arkansas Attorney General, would be sworn to uphold?

For example, in Loving vs. Virginia, the landmark 1967 case striking down state miscegenation (interracial) marriage laws, the state made similar arguments: states rights plus a re-hash of contentions rejected in Brown vs. Board of Education, the anti-segregation school ruling. The state, Virginia argued, had a compelling interest to “protect the institution of marriage”, thereby trumping federal due process and equal protection rights for all citizens of “mixed marriages”. If interracial marriage laws were voided, Virginia argued, what would prevent polygamous, incestuous, and imbecilic marriages?

The bottom line is this, and David Sterling should know it: If Arkansas is to regulate the institution of marriage, then it must abide by the United States Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedents. No Arkansas law or even a constitutional amendment passed by the people themselves contravening federal law and rights can stand. Under due process and equal protection, Arkansas must treat all people equally barring some compelling and over-riding state interest that would justify trampling people’s fundamental right to marriage.

Protecting the “sanctity of marriage”, long ago shredded by Arkansas’ liberal divorce laws (the lax “general indignities” grounds and the second shortest residency requirement, sixty days behind Nevada’s thirty, in the nation), is not sufficient. Besides, how does gay marriage harm whatever is left of the “sanctity of marriage” anyway? To avoid gay marriage, should we abolish, as GOP Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney once suggested, all “redundant” divorce statutes and impose “Biblical laws” (divorce only for adultery)?

David Sterling’s crass pandering, echoed by another GOP AG candidate, Leslie Rutledge (“as far as that judge in Little Rock, I cannot wait—-to defend our marriages between one man and one woman”), is legally ignorant, politically exploitative, and patently unworthy of anyone who would be the chief defender of our laws.

Such incendiary anti-gay rhetoric reminds me of arch-segregationist Jim Johnson trying to “out-seg” Orval Faubus. Perhaps David Sterling and the other Republican AG candidates should go back to school for elementary history and law lessons.

MIght I add for the people flooding newspapers with letters about their outrage that judges could overrule the will of the majority of the people: Bush v. Gore.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • UPDATE: Hutchinson moves to cover himself on cut to War Memorial Stadium

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson apparently felt the burn from KARK's exclusive Tuesday night on his plans to cut state support of War Memorial Stadium in half beginning July 1, 2018. He has a so-far secret plan to make the stadium self-sustaining. We bet that doesn't include state support.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation