Palo Alto Weekly
News - June 1, 2012
Weekly rescinds judgeship endorsement
Candidate supported Prop. 8, banning gay marriage in California
After learning Friday, May 25, that San Jose attorney Steven Pogue contributed $500 to the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage, the Palo Alto Weekly has rescinded its endorsement of his election to the Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The paper recommends Pogue's opponent, Cynthia Sevely, a deputy district attorney.
The Weekly learned of Pogue's contribution to the Prop. 8 campaign from several readers, and Pogue confirmed he was a donor late Friday afternoon.
"The Weekly is a strong supporter of gay rights and of gay marriage, and we cannot lend our endorsement to a candidate for judge who has actively attempted to deny this right," Weekly publisher Bill Johnson said.
None of the judicial candidates, including Pogue, was asked to state a position on Prop. 8 during endorsement interviews with the Weekly.
Pogue said in a statement on Friday that he believes the state should simply register domestic partners and leave marriage up to an individual's "religion, philosophy or vows on a starry night."
Doing so would force the federal government to recognize civil unions, he said, and it would ease feelings among gay people that they were being denied something. Those who believe only in marriage between a man and a woman would not feel they were being forced by the state to accept the state's definition, he added.
Johnson said candidates' views on gay marriage may or may not be important to individual voters, but by providing financial support to a highly divisive and emotional ballot measure, Pogue showed a passion on the issue that is inconsistent with the qualities the Weekly is looking for in a judge.
Pogue also confirmed this week that while he attended what was at the time known as San Jose State College, he did not graduate.
— Palo Alto Weekly staff
Posted by Walt,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2012 at 8:47 am
This action by publisher Bill Johnson, demonstrates that the Weekly is probably a one-dog show. Generally, editorial comment is left to the editor, not the publisher. The high visibility of Johnson on so many local issues seems to reveal that he sees himself as a force to be reckoned with, and not the business manager of a local business that humbly attempts to record community events.
Johnson, hiding behind the name of the Weekly, claims to be a big supporter of homosexual rights and marriage. He doesn't explain his positionhe just makes it very clear that he is. Given the thirty-odd year history of the Weekly, it would be interesting to see if Bill Johnson has ever taken a stand supporting traditional marriage in as bold a fashion?
Traditional marriageone man and one womanhas been adopted and codified as the moral, and legal, standard for most cultures and societies over the millennia of human social evolution (although some societies have adopted polygamy). The current argument for same sex marriage seems to focus on the fact that the US Constitution makes "all people equal"--so same sex couples are being discriminated against because they are legally barred from marrying.
Most of the US Constitution is framework for a system where the States were intended to create most of the laws that regulated day-to-day life. It is difficult to believe that the Founding Fathers believed that their ideas about "equality" would be used to justify homosexual marriage, after the adoption of the Constitution. Yet, here we aresome 250 years lattermaking that claim.
Many of the fundamental laws concerning social interactions among people have been based in the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs/texts. The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) are certainly seen in laws involving murder, theft and adultery. Other laws involving incest, pedophilia, minimum age for marriage, and so on, can likely be found, in one way, or another, in the Jewish/Christian tradition. The prohibitions against homosexuality can be found in the beliefs of all of the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)religions practiced by over 2B people, worldwide. Moreover, it is hard to find any historical societies/cultures that have embraced same-sex marriage. Promoting same-sex marriage, as Bill Johnson seems to be doing so enthusiastically, would seem to put him at odds with over 8,000 years of human social evolutionthat has found that marriage is an institution that works wellwith partners of the opposite sex.
People promoting same-sex marriage may argue that modern society should not be bound by the primitive ideas of uneducated people who believed in the creation of the world by a "god"who laid down a series of laws that they had to follow, or face the wrath of a loving god turned vengeful. With advances in science, the world can not turn its back on the idea of a "creator", and his unworkable laws. It's the 21st Century, and "god" hasn't been around for a long, long, time. Sowe humans should be able to do what we want. And that includes banning all discrimination against other humans.
Well, maybe we are ready to jettison this religious, and secular, restraint on homosexualsbased on the fact that these laws have a clear linkage to the monotheistic religionsand are not based on the current interpretation of our secular Constitution.
But this opens doors that can not easily be shutif our argument revolves around "equality". For instance, our Constitution seems to allow all religions to operate freely in the US. So, why should not Muslims be allowed to marry more than one person, as they do in other parts of the worldaccording to the tenets of their religion? Aren't we discriminating against the practice of Islam, where polygamy is concerned? Same argument for the practice of child/arranged marriagesoften practiced in Asian countries, such as India and China?
And then there is the issue of the minimum age for sexual relations between adults and children. This practice seems taboo here in the US, but not so in many culturesagain practiced often in Islamic societies. Is it not discrimination to deny Muslims the right to their cultural practices here in the USjust because the idea is horrifying to most of us?
This whole idea of non-discrimination as the basis for supporting same-sex marriage opens many, many, doors, that people like Bill Johnson are now going to have to take a position on. If he supports same-sex marriage, how can he not be a supporter of removing the bans on every social practice that most Americans would likely agree comprised the elements of our American morality that helped to create, and sustain, this great nation?
As to Bill Johnson's de-endorsement of the Stephen Pogueso what? Who cares what Bill Johnson thinks? It does demonstrate, however, that you can not trust Johnson when you are being interviewed by him, or his minions. Political candidates offering themselves up to his editorial review would be wise to remember this action, and to demand a complete list of the litmus tests that Johnson intends to apply in his endorsement process before agreeing to meet with him. If the list is too long, or too onerous, then prudent candidates would be well-advised to skip interviewing with the Weekly, and look to other sources for endorsement.
Posted by Walt,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2012 at 9:01 am
> The sponsors of Prop 8 insisted that marriage was a
> "Christian institution" and wanted the state to enforce
> their interpretation on the whole of society,
> non-Christians and dissenting Christians alike.
It's been a while since Prop.8 was before the voters. Can the poster produce any documentation to substantiate this point to get us all on the same page.
> It is a sad commentary on today that so many like
> Nayeli define "religious freedom" as the right to use
> the state to inflict their religious beliefs on large society.
As it turns out, the country was very, very, Christian at the time of the Revolution->Constitution, using Christian doctrine/beliefs as the foundation of most of the political system and the laws that followed. The First Amendment meant to them what they wrote: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The idea of "separation of Church and State" came along afterwards, never being codified into law.
The idea that there should be a "separation" between Church and Statemeaning that the US is a secular state with a secular government that simply "tolerates" religion can not be demonstrated by any honest reading of history, or US law. It is true that there are people who have pushed very hard for this "separation", to the point that in some places in the US religion, and those practicing religion, have been vilified. This vilification seems particularly obvious in the realm of "higher education" over the past thirty years, or so.
> Churches are free to choose for whom they perform that service
Are Churches really free to discriminate against people whose life-styles are not in consonance with the teachings of the Church? Perhaps the poster is unfamiliar with the state of affairs regarding the attacks on tradition by homosexuals wanting to overturn thousands of years of Church teachings/history/societal influence--
Gays Sue Church For Not Performing Marriage:
Supreme Court to hear case that could permit "gays" to sue churches for discrimination in hiring practices:
And in the UK, similar legal actions are occurring
Gay Cleric Suing Church
Certainly it's not that unbelievable that in the not-too-distant future, the Federal government might well attempt to force Churches to hire homosexual pastorsclaiming some right under Federal employment law, or the often abused "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution. Maybe the poster doesn't that this might happen, or maybe the poster doesn't care if it doesbut "people of faith" should be concerned, very concerned.
And now with Obamacare, Churches are being forced by the secular Federal government to become involved in various practices which have historically been opposed/banned by the Church/religion for thousands of years (in some cases). The power of the Central Government to force its secular views down everyone's throats has never been more obvious. The conflict between those who wanted one government and no state governments, that was waged during the creation of the Articles of Confederation, and then the current Constitution, continues to chip away at our States Rights, which means, ultimately, our individual rights as expressed in our State laws.
Religion, in the abstract, and Christianity/Judaism in the specific, have been forces that have survived the most powerful, most destructive, secular governments ever created by man. Even if there turns out to be no divinity, no god(s), and Christianity/Judaism turn out to be simply another form of "government" created by man, these relgions will be seen in history's eyes as far more successful than any other form of "government", based on their longevity, and the willingness of people to accept their teachings. Secular governments more often than not are simply the agencies of pure evil. Need we look any farther than the governments of Germany, Japan and Russia, during the 20th Century, to see that evil in its full, unfettered, "glory"?
> Yes, Nayeli, you are entirely about inflicting your religious views on others.
Just as the Federal Government seems increasingly hell-bent to inflict its secular views on all of us. Given how the Republican party came to power in the 1850s with the expressed purpose of ridding the nation of slavery by any method possibleincluding doing away with the Constitutionit would not be hard to see people opposed to the basic tenets of Christianity attempting the same end-run around the Constitution one of these dayshoping to put an end to "religion" once and for allreplacing "god" with the State.
Posted by Walt,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 29, 2012 at 11:21 am
> Just because the founders of the US were predominantly religious
> people does not mean that they meant the government of the
> US to be one heavily influenced by religion.
Who says? Can you cite sources?
The Constitution is not a stand-alone document. It needs to be viewed with a number of other sources of thinking, from the Bible, the Magna Charta through Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, and the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of pamphlets that circulated in the Colonies prior to the emergence of our current form of government.
Back to the Library of Congress Exhibit on Religion:
The first two Presidents of the United States were patrons of religion--George Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and John Adams described himself as "a church going animal." Both offered strong rhetorical support for religion. In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion, as the source of morality, "a necessary spring of popular government," while Adams claimed that statesmen "may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand." Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the third and fourth Presidents, are generally considered less hospitable to religion than their predecessors, but evidence presented in this section shows that, while in office, both offered religion powerful symbolic support.
When the Constitution was submitted to the American public, "many pious people" complained that the document had slighted God, for it contained "no recognition of his mercies to us . . . or even of his existence." The Constitution was reticent about religion for two reasons: first, many delegates were committed federalists, who believed that the power to legislate on religion, if it existed at all, lay within the domain of the state, not the national, governments; second, the delegates believed that it would be a tactical mistake to introduce such a politically controversial issue as religion into the Constitution. The only "religious clause" in the document--the proscription of religious tests as qualifications for federal office in Article Six--was intended to defuse controversy by disarming potential critics who might claim religious discrimination in eligibility for public office.
Of course, the question of how "religion" should actually enter the picture of how the new Republic would be governed took a "back seat" to the issues of what it means to create a country, more-or-less, out of "whole cloth". The Federalist Papers spend a lot of time fretting over the "Tyranny of the Monarch" and the possibility that the Republic would wither away quickly, and become another monarchy with any Monarch at the helm. It is true that concerns about the new Republic becoming a theocracy, or even an oligarchy of religious interests, was not particularly high on their "radar", at the time. None the less, these folks clearly were concerned about having "religion" in the "wheelhouse", giving the leaders strength, and boundaries.
> Quite the contrary. If you were to study a little history
> you would know this.
Care to site some sources.
> And if you were to study a little logic you would spot
> the problems in the arguments you are parroting.
Care to identify this "logic flaw", rather than simply alleging that it exists?
> But since you clearly have chosen to listen to outlets with
> a long history of pervasive lying,
And what "outlets" would those be? So far, the Library of Congress is providing the bulk of the substance for these arguments. Are you suggesting that the US Government has a "long history of pervasive lying", or is it the Church that you are accusing of perennial prevarication?
> FNC has deflected complaints about the many lies on their shows
> by stating that those shows are only for entertainment, not
Don't see Fox News cited in these arguments--but you're free to find the words posted herein on a Fox web-site, validating your rather dismissive use of the word "parroting".
Posted by Aram James,
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 5, 2012 at 2:30 am
June, 4, 2012
Hi Steve (Steve Pogue for Judge):
(1) You have written a brilliant letter re the issues surrounding what I characterize as the Republican Party v White controversy. I will try to answer your points as directly as I can--but mostly I hope everyone on this e-list will read your letter and share it with others in the legal community and equally important with those in our community who so much want to hear from our judges and judicial candidates in this time when our courts and all the institutional players in the system --public defenders, district attorneys, the courts, law enforcement agencies, etc., are all bursting at the seams.
(2) As to the candidates for judicial office I am not looking for any particularly set of answers to the questions that interest me--I want to see the reasoning the candidate uses in reaching their conclusion--isn't that the type of legal reasoning we were taught to employ in law school. My particular set of questions were in large part rhetorical in natureexamples of the type of hard questions that would be fair game for voters to ask under the dictate of Republican Party v White.
(3) I am not writing this as a request that people vote for you or not--I really am interested in making certain that all future judicial elections in this county benefit from this important discussion re the significance of Republican Party v White and how it shifts the landscape re what candidate are free to say re the critical issues of the day. I am guessing Cindy Sevely will win over whelming tomorrow --but sadly in my mind with zero real discussion of the critical issues. I personally hope you will run again--not because I will or will not necessarily vote for you but because we need lawyers like you willing to discuss our constitution --and not hide behind a non-existing Canon--to deny the public a right to hear your views.
(4) I personally don't care about party labels--party labels don't speak for me --I speak for myself and want a vibrant discussion on the important substantive issues that are facing us as a county, state and nation. The fact that you may be a registered Republican and me a registered Green party member ( formerly Peace & Freedom) is of no moment re a discussion on the merits of any given issue i.e., the death penalty, gay marriage, the three-strikes laws, the Nuremberg principals as applied to Obama's current use of unarmed drones to kill and murder unarmed civilians, the use of indefinite detention by our government to detain so-called terrorists suspects without the right to a trial or even the pretext of due process, the use of torture to secure confessions and on and on. In fact the last time I looked the Constitution wasn't registered with any party!!!!
(5) Now you say your willingness to discuss the holding in Republican Party v White does not mean you are breaking ranks with the other candidates--I respectfully disagree. You say in your letter (directly below) "Do I believe I have a right to express my every political view except to state specifically how I would rule on an issue? Sure. The court said so, and that settles it." Okay--well you got it right--that is exactly what the holding in White says. But guess the other four candidates have been playing fast and loose with the truth in that regard and let me give you my reasoning in that regard.
(6) Your opponent, Cindy Sevely--said to me in an e-mail exchange--read it for yourself --it is at the bottom of the e-mail tread--that; "-Hi Aram Unfortunately I won't be able to answer the questions you want to learn. I am aware of Cannon 7 and violations of this can be reported to the State Bar. So, did you still want to meet with me?"
(7) Now to be fair and so I am --not accused of taken Cindy Sevely's words out of context-- read the entire exchange (see below and the bottom of this e-mail tread). My conclusion is as follows: (1) Cindy Sevely just simply had not read Republican Party v White and thus continued to claim out of ignorance that Canon 5 which she referred to as Canon 7--precluded her from giving her personal views on the issues. (2) She was well aware of Republican Party v White--but out of political expediency decided to claim that Canon 5 prevented her from giving her opinions on the issues--to avoid having to answer any question she thought might offend the voters thus costing here votes. In my words seller her soul to win an election at the expense of the voter's right to be fully informed on her views and at the expense of her own integrity and at the expense of our constitution. I will leave for other to decide where the truth falls.
(8) As to the candidates Paul Colin, Chris Cobey and Alexis Cerul--I realize you were not at their debate --which took place before the one you had with Cindy Sevely. Okay-here is my recollection--but the forum/debate was taped so you can review it for yourself. I submitted several written question at the LWV's forum/debate. And the first question as by the moderator was one of mine: It went something like this: There are two criminal justice initiatives on the November ballot one that would end the death penalty in California and the other that would amend and soften the three-strikes law. Please give your opinion on each and how you intend to vote???? The first to answer was Alexis Cerulhis response ( again go to the tape to see the verbatim answer): I am unable to answer that question because of an ethical or judicial Canon prohibition against answer a question on an issue I that might come before me as a judge. Paul Colin and Chris Cobeyessentially parroted the same response.
(9) Now you Steve have it right: If you don't want to answer a question then tell the voters the truth I have a first amendment right to do sotoo answer your hard-ball question but I am exercising my first amendment right not to answer the question since I don't want to lose votes, don't want to offend anyone etc., the don't lie to the voters that you can't.
(10) In the end it is very difficult for me to imagine voting for a candidate who refuses to answer a given question since of course I and believe most voters are this wayhave no litmus test re the answers I am looking for but rather want to get to know the candidate how they think, how they respond are they compassionatedo they evidence a degree of legal scholarship are they passionate about our constitution, etc.
(11) All of the candidates this year after seeing their debate performance received an inflated grade of D- form me. You are the only candidate who has post-debate been willing to even debate the issues with mefor that and your honesty and clear passion for the law and our constitution I am changing your grade to an A, this despite my huge disagreement with you on the gay marriage issue and I am guessing on many other issues as well.
Be well and continue to stand for what you think is right and continue to debate the issues in the open and always keep an open mind that some datasome argument might persuade you that your initial take on the issue is wrong. I promise to do the same.
With great respect,
I do not think I have broken ranks with anyone. I do not recall anyone saying they disagreed with Republican Party v. White. And agree or not, it is the law, like Miranda and Citizens United.
One thing to remember is that there are things we have a right to do and things that are unwise to do, and they are often found on the same list. Further, having a right to do something and having an obligation to do so are far from being the same thing.
Do I believe I have a right to express my every political view except to state specifically how I would rule on an issue? Sure. The court said so, and that settles it. What they did not say was that anyone has any obligation to do so, nor did they say that it was necessarily a good idea to do so. I have a right to walk down the most dangerous street in America, but I have no obligation to do so, nor would it necessarily be prudent.
I am certain that I hold some political views that would be shared by 99% of Americans. I imagine that I hold others that might be shared by only 10%. (I am just using hypotheticals, I have not thought up specific examples.) I would suppose that the same could be said of your political views.
My reasons for not discussing my political views in depth are not based in any belief or pretense that I am forbidden by any law or canon from doing so. I do not even believe that California law is in conflict with RP v. White. My reasons for not discussing my political views in depth are precisely as I have expressed them. The first being, hardly anyone has asked. The second is that I believe it would be unwise to express political views that might appear to telegraph that I am reliably one way or another on any issue.
In the League of Women Voters forum in Campbell, we were all asked what we thought of Justice Ginsburg's comment that other countries should not use our constitution as a model. Everyone declined but me, and I said I was appalled and thought it was an awful thing for a Supreme Court justice to say.
Much can be learned about one's political views simply from party registration, and that is public record. I am a registered Republican. That is no secret. That tells some people all they need to know. It would tell nearly anyone something, as would registration as a Democrat, a Green, or a Libertarian. It certainly does not tell everything, but gives a good hint. Everyone who has asked me that, I have told. Hardly anyone has asked, and I have not stressed it. It is a non-partisan office. I am not running as a Republican and for me to tout it would add a partisan aspect to a race that should be apolitical.
So, I hope that clarifies my views on RP v. White, and why I have declined to answer some of your questions. And as to most of them, you are the only one who has even asked me.
Well yes the campaign season is short but this applies to other types of elections as well--say city council races, BOS races, etc., but this is no reason not to allow the people to elect our judges My key point is that the candidates have been hiding by a judicial Canon # 5, whose provisions preventing judicial candidates from expressing their views on the hot button legal, political and social issues of the day was declared unconstitutional in Republican Party v White Web Link in 2002.
The case is a very interesting read and traces the history of judicial elections back for more than a century. The key language in Scalia's decision is that so long as a state prefers to have elections for judges ( and he doesn't offer an opinion--like the ABA does--that judges should all be selected by insiders)-- that the state cannot then allow voters to suffer in a state of government imposed voter ignorance.
Another words the case holds that judicial candidates have the same rights (first amend rights) to voice their personal opinions-- on the hard issues of the day-- as any other candidate for any other political office, and that we the voters have an equally compelling first amendment right to be fully informed on the issues before we enter the polling booth. Of course if a state decides to only allow for appointed judges then we-- the voters-- are stuck with the legal elite deciding what is best for us. I don't go for that and I am guessing you don't either!!!
And yesmarriage is a very complex issue-but gay marriage is no more or less complicated than interracial marriage was thought to be 40-60 years ago -which was outlawed in this state until about 1948-- when such laws were struck down in Perez v Sharp, Web Link. California was the first state to strike down such laws --almost 20 years before the U.S. Supreme Court did so in Loving v. Virginia Web Link.
The recent decisions coming out of the courts on gay marriage ---striking down laws banning gay marriage-- are doing so on the same constitutional grounds as the courts did in striking down anti-miscegenation's laws of an earlier generation.
So regardless of the complex religious and cultural issues/arguments that can be made for or against gay marriage---on purely legal grounds there is little or no difference from the issues decided in the Loving and Perez cases.
I think gay marriage-- on legal grounds only-- is soon to be a settled issue--the U.S. Supreme Court will-in my view--declare any ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional.
On a popular basis, the culture wars--like those involving issues relate to abortion, race issues, etc. will continue to be fought in the hearts and minds of the men and women for many years to come.