California's Prop 8 Ruling Gives Sotomayor an Easier Path

The decision on gay marriage makes it harder for conservatives to foment outrage over activist judges.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

There was some speculation that President Obama expedited the announcement of his first Supreme Court nominee to pre-empt the California Supreme Court's decision today on Proposition 8, the Golden State's voter-approved gay marriage ban. If the California court had struck down the ban, the theory goes, Obama would have unveiled his nominee in a hailstorm of conservative outrage over activist judges overruling voters with liberal social policy.

Instead, the California high court has upheld Prop 8, even though the 18,000 couples who got marriage licenses in the months between a California court's decision legalizing gay marriage and Prop 8's passage will be allowed to keep them.

Conservative Christian groups are applauding the ruling. "The California Supreme Court arrived at the only correct conclusion available: The people of California have a fundamental right to amend their own Constitution," said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks.

This means that conservative groups will have a much tougher time fomenting anti-Sonia Sotomayor ire over activist judges.

Another challenge for anti-Sotomayor groups comes from the Republican National Committee's talking points about what she could mean for religious conservatives:

  • Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;
  • Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;
  • Stripping "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;

These are harder to believe, given Sotomayor's moderate record on abortion and religious liberty cases.