Saturday, August 22, 2009

Van Hollen defends WI Constitution by ignoring key parts of it

JB Van Hollen is not following his job duties.

This week, the Republican Attorney General stated that he would not defend the state in a lawsuit involving the legality of the domestic partnership registry law.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:
"My decision isn't based on a policy disagreement," he said. "As Attorney General, I prosecute and defend laws that I wouldn't have voted for if I were a policymaker. That is what I believe the job entails.

"But I will not ignore the Constitution. My oath isn’t to the legislature or the governor. My duty is to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the highest expression of their will — the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. When the people have spoken by amending our Constitution, I will abide by their command. When policymakers have ignored their words, I will not."
In choosing to sit out this legal challenge, Van Hollen also forces the state to seek outside help, costing the taxpayers more money.

Not that we should want to have Van Hollen defend for the state anyway; he'd probably do a half-decent job at it in an effort to purposely lose while at the same time saving face with those who think he should do his job.

But Van Hollen mistakenly believes his duty is to the people. On some level it is -- he was elected by them and is thus responsible for upholding his job duties pursuant to their wishes. In that way, he'd be right to sit this case out on the merits that the people voted for the ban on gay marriage.

On the other hand, he is the top lawman in the state -- his job is to uphold the laws Wisconsin has established, as he himself said. If he can't do that, then he doesn't deserve to be Attorney General.

In addition, if Van Hollen had done his homework, he would know that an amendment to the State Constitution can only have one clause for the people to vote on at a time. The ban on gay marriage had two clauses, one for banning gay marriage and one for banning recognition of unions substantially similar to gay marriage, but only one vote for both issues. You couldn't vote for a ban on gay marriage and support civil unions, for had to oppose both or support both.

In that way, the ban on gay marriage itself is unconstitutional. Yet, we don't see Van Hollen making that assertion. He says he will not ignore the rules of the Constitution -- by ignoring the rules of the Constitution!

If Van Hollen were honest about his position -- which, it should be pretty plain to see, is that he doesn't agree with the domestic partnership law -- then it'd be fine for him to say, "I can't take on this case because my beliefs contradict it. It might be a conflict of interest, then, for me to defend something I don't want to defend."

Instead, Van Hollen used the people as a means to defend his position. He should either "man-up" and admit his prejudices or do the job the people of Wisconsin elected him to do. Either way, though, Van Hollen is ignoring the rule of law in Wisconsin.

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