Statement Regarding the Supreme Court Decision in Romer v. Evans (Steps of the Bannock County Courthouse, May 26, 1996)
The Supreme Court’s decision striking down Colorado’s Amendment 2 vindicates the wisdom of Idaho voters in 1994 NOT to pass Proposition 1. The ruling (by a 6-3 vote) squarely states that Colorado’s Amendment 2 violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection clause.”
This decision has direct applicability to the new initiative drafted by the Idaho Citizens’ Alliance. The intent of the new initiative, with its title -- ”Family and Child Protection Act,” is to establish a “rational basis” by which the State of Idaho may discriminate against homosexuals. The Supreme Court, however, refused to allow rational basis in the Amendment 2 case; that is, the State of Colorado failed to establish a rationale for its actions, beyond that of discriminating against a class of people in violation of the 14th Amendment. Likewise, the specific intent of the new Proposition 1 in Idaho is to single out a specific group and deny that group the right to use the political process for protection, not to protect families and children. The state will not be able to prove “rational basis.” The Colorado District Court, in its decision which the Supreme Court upheld yesterday, put it this way: “[I]f one wished to promote family values, action would be taken that is pro-family, rather than anti- some specific group.” In addition, the Supreme Court found fault with the language of Amendment 2, and Idaho’s new Proposition 1 is similarly unconstitutionally vague and, therefore, unenforceable.
One final point. Proponents of Idaho’s new Proposition 1 will undoubtedly promote Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion, that denial of preferential treatment does not violate equal protection. Based upon almost all of the federal courts’ rulings to date -- including the ruling of the nation’s highest court, of which he is a member -- it is reasonable to conclude that Justice Scalia is wrong. This ruling would go a long way toward ending “America’s cultural wars” (his words) if he will support it.
The people of a state cannot put fundamental rights to a vote. The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment IS the supreme law of the land -- in Colorado, in Idaho, and in all the 50 states.