The Supreme Court of the United States of America today informed us that the people are no longer in charge of this country. The Declaration of Independence states that governments derive “their just powers by the consent of the governed.” In the spirit of that principle, 26 states, and many city and local governments, allow citizens to approve legislation directly by popular vote in cases where their legislature does not address their concerns. However, we learned today that if citizens put in place a law that the people in public office don’t happen to like, it can be ignored.
The Supreme Court today explained that citizens may have the authority to put a law in place, but they do not have the authority to defend it in court. When California’s officials chose not to defend Proposition 8 against a constitutionality challenge, citizens stepped up to defend it, but the Court declared that they lack “standing” to participate in the case. The citizens are dependent on their politicians to exercise authority, and if the politicians don’t care to see it exercised in that way, at the slightest breeze, the decision of the people can be waved away.
This is a revolution. Before today, we believed that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed—that is, the people. Or to put it more personally, we believed that the authority of our government depended on us. Today we learned that, as far as our government is concerned, our authority depends on it. What are we going to do about it?