1434California Chief Justice Ronald George Boost His Stability
- Jun 16, 2008California Chief Justice Ronald George Boasts His StabilityRon Branson - National J.A.I.L. CICTwo years ago I received a call from the Los Angeles Times. The reporter's name was Jessica Garrison. She asked me if I knew who Ronald George was. I said, "Sure, he is the Chief Justice of the State of California." She said, "Right, I just got off the phone with him and he says he knows you." I responded, "I'm very impressed, but you do know that he has nothing good to say about me." She stated that I was correct. I then told her that he is already quoted in the news that I am out to destroy this wonderful judicial system we have here in California. She then asked me for an interview. I accepted, and that result was published in their April 24, 2006 newspaper.During that interview I kiddingly stated, "I think I'll give Ronald George a call and ask him to met with me over dinner." She asked me why I would do that. I told her that since she has talked with Ronald George about me, and that he says he knows me, we need to get together and talk about getting J.A.I.L. on the ballot and passed here in California. I then gave Mrs. Garrison a big smile as I awaited her response.It seems that facts establish that Chief Justice Ronald George and I are mutually recognized foes of each other, and are watching each other. I feel honored to have such a foe of our work of JAIL4Judges. The one thing I cannot stand is being ignored when I speak the Truth! I have already accumulated something around six state's Chief Justices who have taken up Ron Branson and/or J.A.I.L. as their subject in their 2007 State of the Judiciary messages and following. I love the words of Missouri Chief Justice Michael Wolff (Missouri is my home state). He says first thought JAIL4Judges was some sort of a joke, but I have learned that it is real, and that it is even already developing here in the State of Missouri. It is obvious that the lead judiciary of this nation is frightened about the very idea that J.A.I.L might appear on their respective state's ballot sometime in the future, including Ronald George here in California.I came across the below article in which Ronald George boasts himself of not being afraid of a backlash from the People of California for his recent radical and bold rulings regarding same sex "marriages." As I see it, Ronald George has not only personally chosen to challenge JAIL4Judges, but also the God of Heaven in that he does not care what God thinks. He apparently has no fear of God, nor of His Word, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Gal. 6:7Ronald George says below that he thinks this nation is ripe for becoming a homosexual nation, i.e., "... he believes the nation will eventually accept same-sex marriage in the same way it accepts interracial marriage," and further states, "... he believes courts will be quicker to give broad civil rights to gays..." and “I just intuitively feel that the country's moving in that direction,” he said. He says that he does not fear a recall movement in two years when he will normally face the voters.- RonSignOnSanDiegoSAME-SEX MARRIAGELaw-and-order appointee now known for greater rights
But how did a jurist, appointed and promoted by law-and-order Republican governors, create a legacy of expanding civil rights for gays and abortion rights for girls?U-T SACRAMENTO BUREAUJune 13, 2008SAN FRANCISCO – California Chief Justice Ronald George doesn't go before voters for confirmation for two years, but the November election could serve as a referendum on the two most important decisions of his 12-year tenure.
Voters will get a chance to pass judgment on his recent landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage and his 1997 decision allowing girls under 18 to decide whether to have an abortion without their parents' consent.Chief Justice Ronald George
Chief Justice Ronald George
Hometown: Los Angeles
Education: Stanford Law School, 1964 J.D.; Princeton University, 1961 B.A. (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs)
Career: Chief justice, California Supreme Court 1996-present; Supreme Court, 1991-present; Court of Appeal, 1987-91; Los Angeles Municipal and Superior Court, 1972-87; deputy attorney general, 1965-72
Family: Married; 3 sons
Hobbies: Running, hiking
Online: For extended excerpts of the Union-Tribune interview with Chief Justice Ronald George go to uniontrib.com
“The hot-button issues come to our court and they come up on the political track before voters,” he said, in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. “We don't duck those issues, but we don't seek them out either.”
The 68-year-old George, known as an energetic administrator of the state's court system, has been described by one law professor as the “least radical man in California.”
As a prosecutor, he argued to preserve the death penalty in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. As a judge, he took the unusual step of denying a prosecutor's motion to dismiss murder charges against Angelo Buono, who became known as the Hillside Strangler. Eventually, Buono was convicted of nine murders.
Gov. Ronald Reagan first named George to the Los Angeles Municipal Court bench in 1972 and Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson promoted him. All three were known for their law-and-order stances.
But given that political lineage, it surprised many when George and three of his colleagues, two of whom were also appointed by Republicans, made history by issuing the first decision in the nation to extend broad civil rights protections, including the right to marry, to gays and lesbians.
Next week California will become the second state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Massachusetts was the first to legalize same-sex marriage, but its court decision was narrower than George's ruling.
The decision created outrage among social conservatives. who accuse George of thwarting the will of the people by overturning same-sex marriage bans in both a 1977 law and Proposition 22, approved by 61 percent of voters in 2000.
“It's flat-out judicial activism,” said Katie Short, spokeswoman for the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the November ballot.Justice Marvin Baxter, in a stinging dissent, accused his colleagues of overreaching.
The 4-3 majority, he wrote, “simply does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.”
George sees things differently.
“When the court is faced with the responsibility of having to declare a measure unconstitutional, it's not thwarting the will of the people,” he said. “It's really adhering to the ultimate expression of the people's will, namely the constitution that the people have adopted.”
The ruling, issued May 15, is clearly novel. But some legal scholars say it is conservative in the sense that it relies on precedent – the court's groundbreaking 1948 Perez decision that struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage.
The opinion also leans on a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that rejected the idea that separate schools for blacks and whites could be equal.
“This is a very traditional decision,” said Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. “It rejects separate but equal relationship rules.”
John Oakley, a law professor at the University of California Davis, is the one who called George the “least radical man in California.”
“He's a consummate judge and a consummate judge responds to the gravitational force of the law,” Oakley said. “In this case, the gravitational force of the 1948 decision is very strong.”
The Perez decision made California the first state in the nation to throw out laws banning interracial marriage.
In his same-sex marriage ruling, George wrote that the Perez decision was controversial at the time, but it “is a judicial opinion whose legitimacy and constitutional soundness are by now universally recognized.”
George, during the interview, said he believes the nation will eventually accept same-sex marriage in the same way it accepts interracial marriage.
Further, he said he believes courts will be quicker to give broad civil rights to gays than they were to clear the way for interracial marriage.
It was 10 years before another state court followed California's lead in the Perez case and 19 years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage in a 1967 decision.
“I just intuitively feel that the country's moving in that direction,” he said. “And that to the extent that this decision is controversial it will be accepted and the underlying premise – equality for individuals aside from sexual orientation – will gain social acceptance . . . ”
Early evidence suggests Californians have begun to change their mind on this issue.
Opponents of same-sex marriage had been preparing for the court's ruling for more than a year. In April, they turned in enough signatures to place a constitutional ban before voters in November.
They are counting on a backlash against the judiciary to energize voters. Yet, after last month's ruling, the nonpartisan Field Poll for the first time found that a majority of California voters, 51 percent, favored allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 43 percent were opposed.
Poll director Mark DiCamillo said the court's carefully worded decision might have persuaded some voters to support same-sex marriage.
“Clearly, the court's decision accelerated the trend toward acceptance,” he said.
George said he hopes that his decision has impact.
“I would like to think that what the court does is something the public thinks about and is influenced by,” he said.
George declined to talk about the specifics of the ruling, saying that it would be unfair for him to interpret a decision that was joined by three of his colleagues, Justices Carlos Moreno, Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Werdegar.
The decision is part of a larger trend that follows several state Supreme Court rulings expanding rights of gays and lesbians.
George said that his beliefs about gays have evolved.
“I have friends who are gay. I have friends who have gay children,” he said. “Just as with friendships that one has that cross racial divisions, the more we encounter people socially and in the workplace from different backgrounds, the more difficult it is for anyone to demonize individuals. I think that's part of the evolution of our society.”
He said he is not worried about a backlash against the judiciary or the possibility that opponents will campaign against him in two years when he seeks another 12-year term from voters.
“It's time to hang up the robe once you start thinking about something like that,” he said.
George has faced down political opposition before.
In 1996, anti-abortion activists attended his confirmation hearing, held by the state Commission on Judicial Appointments, with pictures of fetuses and fake blood. At the hearing, they threatened to oppose his bid to win a 12-year term from voters in 1998, if he ruled against the state's parental consent law.
But the new chief justice was not daunted.
“My answer was that I assigned the case to myself to show I would not be intimidated,” he said.
In 1997, George and a new majority reversed the previous court's decision on parental consent, which had not yet become final. They found that the state constitution contains a privacy right that allows girls under 18 to decide whether to have an abortion.
A few activists mounted a campaign against George in 1998, fueled in part by a $20,000 donation from James Holman, an anti-abortion activist and publisher of the San Diego Reader. George won approval for a new term from 75 percent of voters.
Since then, Holman and his allies have made some changes in their efforts to restrict abortions for girls. Instead of pushing parental consent laws, they have sought to require doctors to notify the parents of a minor before she has an abortion unless she gets a judicial waiver.
To avoid having their notification law nullified by George's 1997 decision, they have gathered enough signatures to place their proposal in the state constitution.
Voters have twice rejected notification measures. In November, they will get a third chance.
Just as he did in the parental consent case, George said he made a point of writing the majority opinion in the same-sex marriage case.
George's decision to write the opinion himself actually gives it more credibility, said John Sims, a professor at McGeorge School of Law.
“He's a Republican appointee with rock-solid conservative credentials,” he said. “That gives him a certain amount of political armor.”
Sims said the ruling shows a “maturity and self-confidence” that has helped George gain a national reputation as a court leader.
Besides writing controversial decisions, George has improved relations with lawmakers, secured stable funding for courts and helped the judicial council begin the process of owning and maintaining state court buildings.
In short, he has taken steps to allow the courts to function fully as an independent branch of government.
Once a marathon runner, George, who is married with three grown children, is now down to running about 12 miles a week.
But he still has the energy for a job that he relishes.
“I love my job,” he said. “For a former political science major, it's a wonderful combination. I plan to keep doing it as long as I feel I have the physical and mental stamina.”