Friday, May 16, 2008

"[L]ooks can kill."

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court voted to overturn the state's ban on same sex marriages. Six of the 7 Justices on the Court were Republican appointees, and the vote was 4-3. Kenji Yoshino wrote a great article for Slate explaining the opinion and backing the CA Court. Within the article, he summarizes a difficult Con Law concept in one paragraph:

"The legal difference between the two opinions [the Massachusetts and the CA decisions] lies in the so-called "rational basis" review used by the Massachusetts court and the "strict scrutiny" deployed by the California Court. In constitutional parlance, these terms describe how closely a court will examine state legislation: will it give the legislature the benefit of the doubt, or not? Rational basis review is so lenient that it almost always results in the validation of state policies (in this sense, the 2003 Massachusetts ruling was an aberration), while strict scrutiny is so stringent that it almost always results in the invalidation of such policies. In other words, the standards supposedly only express how closely the court will look at laws, but looks can kill."

This is how I hope to write one day. It takes an enormous amount of skill to clearly and succinctly explain a difficult concept, in layman's terms, and still keep it interesting.

The article is also a good summary of the Court's decision, so check it out if you're interested.

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