Tobias Wolff: ‘Are Liberties Subject to Majority Vote?’

In an excellent op-ed published in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, EJS board member Tobias Wolff summarizes the core issues facing the Calif. Supreme Court as it considers overturning Prop. 8.

Tobias, a constitutional law professor at U. Penn., rebuts Ken Starr’s argument that Prop. 8 should be considered an amendment rather than a revision to the state constitution, arguing that to agree with the Prop. 8 proponents’ arguments would pave the way for “any protected minority to have its fundamental rights taken away whenever a bare majority wishes to do so.”

In explaining why the structural provisions of the Constitution are so important and deserve special treatment, Starr let slip a reference to what the structural protections of government are actually for: They are designed to safeguard liberty. Therese Stewart, the lawyer for the city of San Francisco, went on to frame the issue succinctly: If we protect the structures of government but leave all liberties to simple majority vote, then we are safeguarding the moat while allowing the castle to burn down.

Read the full op-ed here.

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