Which Is To Be Master

In a breathtaking act of judicial overreach, a federal judge in the Golden State overturned California’s Proposition 8 recognizing “marriage” as valid only between a man and a woman.  That understanding — acknowledged by every culture in the world for thousands of years – was deemed by Judge Vaughn Walker to run afoul of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

By ruling that the people of California could not limit the term “marriage” to mean only the union of a man and a woman, Judge Walker emptied the word of any meaning.  In California, marriage now means the union of whomever and whatever its participants desire.  In other words, marriage means whatever you want it to mean.  It is, in Judge Walker’s mind, the relational equivalent of free verse — disdained by poet Robert Frost as “tennis with the net down.”

Judge Walker’s ruling is the height of judicial arrogance because the judge treats the word “marriage” like wax which can be shaped and molded into whatever form the judge chooses.  He does the same thing with the words “due process” and “equal protection.”  His attitude appears like that of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s novel, Through the Looking Glass, who, when confronted by Alice about his misuse of language replied:

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

Alice’s apt reply was, “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Humpty Dumpty rejoined “The question is, which is to be master — that’s all.”

Which is to be master, indeed? That is the question facing the people of the United States of America today.  Will they be ruled by a constitution whose words have objective, propositional meaning or will they be ruled by judicial despots who strip the words of their meaning and twist them to accomplish a social agenda never envisioned by the Founding Fathers and not sanctioned by the American people?

In the beginning of our country, America’s Founders risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to challenge the tyranny of a ruler determined to work his will among the people.  They were not willing to submit quietly to a despot’s agenda.  They wanted a government of, by, and for the people and they were willing to fight and die for it.  Having succeeded, they forged a new form of government known as a constitutional republic.  The legacy of freedom they left us was embodied in the Constitution of the United States — a compilation of words whose meaning, if faithfully followed, would help secure our freedom.  Thomas Jefferson, the preeminent wordsmith of the American Revolution, understood the importance of those words and their meaning.  He declared, “Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution.”  He then admonished “Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”

By construction, activist judges are turning our Constitution into a blank slate.  They are undermining America’s “peculiar security” by rewriting her most hallowed document.  By changing the meaning of language, they are foisting an agenda on America that its people don’t support and wouldn’t vote for.  Will the American people fall for it?  Have we become so constitutionally illiterate that we will swallow their nonsense?

Despots come in all sizes and shapes and their robes aren’t always purple.  Sometimes they are black.  Do Americans today have the courage and conviction of our forebears?  Do we have what it takes to secure our freedom?  Have we become a nation of sheep?  Will we be governed by the courts or by the Constitution?

In the words of Humpty Dumpty, the question is, which is to be master — that’s all.

Ken Connor


Ken Connor is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society. An esteemed attorney, Connor is affiliated with the law firm of Marks, Balette, & Giessel, a firm nationally known for its successful representation of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

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  • Note that usurpation of power is mentioned three times in the Declaration of Independence as justification for the American Revolution. Judge Walker’s usurpation is so brazen that my twelve year old son instinctively perceived the injustice of it.

    Angelo Codevilla’s recent article on America’s political ruling class is highly relevant here:

    Also, by way of a counterrevolution against judicial tyranny, may I presume to recommend a rereading of my Catholic Exchange article of August 2009, “Insurrection by Convention.”

  • frmartin

    I would have imagined that an organization calling itself “The Center for Just Society” would have it’s aims and aspirations based primarily upon its title. Two people, even of the same sex can fall deeply in love, if they wish to make that love a life-long commitment then they really ought to be afforded, in a just society, that basic human right, and to make that commitment, and be legally bound by it just as heterosexual couples do (or don’t as often as the case may be). Many thousands of same sex couples are denied the legal rights of the majority, in a just society the rights of the minority must not be denied because the majority say so. That happened in Europe in the 20th century. Judge Walker is clearly a man of great vision and with great understanding of a just and fair society, his decision ought to be applauded, “the land of the free” has become a little bit more free by this adjudication.

  • LarryW2LJ

    Here we go again. Is marriage a basic human right; or is it a right granted by God? If we assume that it is a God given right; then it would also be valid to assume that it would follow Natural Law (God’s Law). Natural Law would dictate that the end purpose of such a union is procreation.

    If the true purpose of marriage a LOVING union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation in order to ensure the survival of our species, then a same sex union would seem to fall outside that definition.

    Family, as we know it, has been THE building block of society. And it has been that way for thousands of years. Messing around with that concept should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, with divorce and contraception, we are already doing our best to ruin it.

    God gave us a gift – we shouldn’t ram our prideful disobedience in His face.

  • frmartin

    Marriage is a right, I agree, but there are many stable and long marriages that are sustained through love without either party ever considering the role of God in their union (Agnostics, atheists etc..). But marriage…for the creation of children? I don’t think that argument holds a lot of water…what if a couple do not want children, and use natural methods to prevent that (natural methods as prescribed by the Church I mean) And what about couples who, for biological reasons are unable to have children, They are married, does that marriage, by the above definition, constitute an invalid marriage. These marriages indicate that they ought to be considered contrary to God’s will i.e. he made a mistake bringing such couples together. But God can’t make a mistake so therefore it must be God’s will. Just as much as making people attracted to their own sex can’t be a mistake. We are, we are told, made in the image and likeness of God. If some sexuality is OK but others are not Ok then we are not made in his image at all, or God made a mistake with some people and not others. I don’t think God works like that. What I do know is God is love and his love is unconditional that’s all that should matter. Perhaps the problems the Church has experienced in recent years might have been prevented if she had had a more realistic understanding of human sexuality, marriage, and human love.

  • mlott

    Hi from CA. Yes, the people did not vote for it. Every American citizen has the right to love. Legally every American citizen can do the paperwork to protect that relationship. There is no need to redefine marraige. “I don’t want to be married. I’m very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership,” John says. “The word ‘marriage,’ I think, puts a lot of people off. –Elton John.USA TOday 11/08
    At present, I see it as an attempt to push their ideology on the rest of America. Words have meaning. A rose is a rose not a tulip. Marriage is marriage. By redefining a word, it does not change its inherit meanning…even if you convince one judge, who is obviously bias.

  • plowshare

    I find it very hard to take fmartin’s comments seriously. Homosexuals already have the right to live together as long as they want to. Hence “if they wish to make that love a life-long commitment then they” ARE afforded, “that basic human right, and” they CAN “make that commitment,” already. All that is missing from fmartin’s formula is to make it legally binding on each other; but they are perfectly able to draw up a contract, and have it notarized, setting up the conditions of their future relationship.

    In the above light, the second half of his comment becomes pretentious, indeed, downright ridiculous.

    I think fmartin really had some unspoken ideas in mind when he wrote the first half of his comment, and it is these unspoken ideas that were really behind the second half of his comment.

  • rakeys

    “But God can’t make a mistake so therefore it must be God’s will. Just as much as making people attracted to their own sex can’t be a mistake.”

    Interesting! As long as we have an attraction to something it is not a mistake and must be OK.
    Following that logic
    1. Pedophilia, or the attraction to young children is OK.
    2 Adultery, or the attraction to another human while already married is OK
    3 Polygamy or the attraction to multiple woman as wives , is OK.
    4. Beastiality, or the atraction to animals is OK
    5. Pornography, Oh yeah that is already OK
    6. Divorce,or when you are no longer attracted,or atttracted to someone else is OK
    7. Alcoholism, or the attraction to alcohol to the point of getting drunk, is OK
    8. The attraction to Money, above the attraction to god is OK
    9. The list goes on and on

    True , we all hae some attractions that are not OK.

    Jesus must be our guide. and He said “This is why a man leave his father and mother and clings unto his wife, and the two shall become one. He did not say a man clings unto his husband, or his beloved. He said his wife.

    When Jesus said that a man should not divorce his wife,
    “His disciples said to HIm,’If this is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” He answereed ,”Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some because they were made so by others; some, becauses they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Mt 19: 10-12)

    If you want to say that Jesus is a homophobe go ahead, but that is not OK.

  • frmartin

    No Jesus is not homophobic and thank goodness he isn’t, but obviously many of his followers make up for it.

  • plowshare

    fmartin, is “obviously many of his followers make up for it” supposed to refer to people who have commented here and in The Edge where Mary Kochan says some choice words to you?

    If so, perhaps you would like to try substituting reasoned argument for insults.