Reaction to Prop 8 Ruling: Justice or 'Judicial Tyranny'?

“Judicial tyranny,” or “instant landmark in American legal history?”

Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling that California’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution (see Gavel Grab) drew sharply conflicting reaction. It was alternately condemned as overreaching a court’s authority, and applauded as heralding an opportunity for equality in society.

Here are excerpts of the reactions:


  • “Today, every American should be proud….For so long, Sandy and I and our family have been regarded as ‘less than,’ ‘unequal’ and not worthy of liberty and the pursuit of happiness under the law. But this decision says that we are Americans, too. We too should be treated equally.” Kristin Perry, a plaintiff, in a San Francisco Chronicle article.
  • “The decision, though an instant landmark in American legal history, is more than that. It also is a stirring and eloquently reasoned denunciation of all forms of irrational discrimination, the latest link in a chain of pathbreaking decisions that permitted interracial marriages and decriminalized gay sex between consenting adults.” New York Times editorial.
  • “Justice is advancing thanks to today’s ruling affirming Californians’ constitutional right to marriage in faithful, same-gender relationships.” Episcopal Bishop Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, in a Washington Post article.


  • “An example of extreme judicial activism…Judicial tyranny on the question of marriage must not be allowed to succeed.” Chuck Donovan at The Foundry blog of the Heritage Foundation.
  • “It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.” Cardinal Francis George, president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  • “[A] horrendous decision” that “launched the first salvo in a major culture war over same-sex marriage and the proper purview of the courts.” Brian S. Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, in a New York Times article.

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