Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist
Platt Liebau is a senior member of the CaliforniaRepublic.org
editorial board. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel,
Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs
throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University
and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the
first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Driven to Judicial Fiat
Desperate Davis Turns to the Courts for "Leadership"
[Carol Platt Liebau] 7/24/03
Consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but the oversized
mind of California Governor Gray Davis clearly has a high tolerance
for irony, as well.
That became apparent
last week when Davis signaled his support for California Superintendent
of Education Jack O'Connell's
plan to ask the state Supreme Court to force legislators to
enact a spending plan and proposed tax increases by majority
vote, notwithstanding California's constitutional requirement
that tax hikes must be approved by 2/3 of the legislature.
It's ironic, because on the same day that he pledged to join
O'Connell's lawsuit unless a budget were passed soon, Davis
disparaged his upcoming recall election as a "hijacking" of
Of course, O'Connell and Davis' new plan
to circumvent the state budgeting process through judicial
fiat was inspired by an outlandish recent decision
from Nevada's Supreme Court, which high-handedly ruled that a constitutional
duty to fund education had more legal weight than the constitutional requirement
for a 2/3 vote in order to increase taxes. Never mind that the Nevada Supreme
Court blithely diluted both the legislature's and voters' votes, in violation
of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution
- or that their action is a textbook definition of depriving
Nevadans of their
property without due process of law.
Not surprisingly, the serious constitutional
deficiencies of the Nevada decision are lost on Gray Davis. What is surprising,
however, is that in the midst of
a recall campaign - which he's fighting on the grounds that it constitutes
an illegitimate usurpation of power by certain voters - Davis would openly
advocate a process that permits such a usurpation by unelected judges.
shocking, Davis was willing to sign on in principle to O'Connell's radical
measure in order to force a tax increase in the same week that a California
Field poll revealed that ever-greater numbers of Californians believe that
the budget crisis can be resolved without resorting to tax increases. Finally,
as indicated by the Field poll, voters may have discovered that there was
no need for a budget deficit at all - over the past several years,
increased 25%, four percent more than the combined increase of 21% in inflation
and population growth during the same period. Slowly but surely, they are
learning that it was the Democratic legislature and the governor
- gleefully embarked
on a spending spree that increased expenditures by 40% -- who actually created
the fiscal hole that they are being asked to fill.
California Republican legislators have been sticking together
to oppose tax increases, and their
intransigence in service to their principles
has been yielding dividends.
beginning to understand that a state budget can be readily
passed with a full 2/3 majority of Senate
and Assembly votes -- that budget just can't contain tax increases.
or not they support the recall, Republican lawmakers ought to cross
their fingers that Gray Davis will continue to back O'Connell's
court to overturn California's 2/3 requirement for tax increases -
it seal Davis' doom, it may even provoke the kind of cataclysmic voter
backlash that will mark the beginning of the Republicans' long march
back to power in
CRO columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst and
commentator based in San Marino, CA.