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."
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."
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.