(CBS SF) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris is going to court to prevent a controversial ballot proposal criminalizing sodomy from ever appearing on the California ballot.
Last week, Attorney General Harris made a desperate attempt to keep the Sodomite Suppression Act out of her office. The act is a proposed ballot measure by a man named Matthew Mclaughlin that says “any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.”
And that’s not even all of it, but it’s enough. Now, to be clear, this is never going happen. Mr. McLaughlin needs to collect 365,000 valid signatures just to get on the ballot. He will not get those signatures. In fact, one gay rights group is threatening to make public the names of anyone who signs it. Even if it could get the signatures, the proposal will not pass, and even if it did pass, it would never take effect — it’s clearly unconstitutional.
So, why is Kamala Harris so upset? Because her office has to write the official summary and title of any proposed ballot measure. Even ones that are crazy, or vile or unconstitutional. They all have to go though her office. Last week she announced that she would ask a judge to create an exception to that requirement for extreme cases like this.
FULL TEXT: Criminalizing Sodomy Ballot Proposition
It’s possible the judge will go for it, like anything, but its not likely. The law just does not have an exception for really horrifying proposals. But she’s not crazy for trying. She’s running for Senate, and even if she wasn’t, she’s been given this unbelievably offensive task.
It’s certainly better if she can say, “I tried to get out of it, but the judge made me do it.”
Matt McLaughlin is a lawyer, so he could defend himself. But he’s been completely silent and no one can locate him, so it’s unlikely he’ll show up.
There is also a petition to disbar him that is gathering signatures, and a new ballot measure directed at him called the Intolerant Jackass Act has also been submitted to the Attorney General. If would require McLaughlin to attend sensitivity training and donate $5000 to an LGBT charity. The chance of that passing is pretty good.
This whole situation has re-ignited the debate about California’s initiative process. Right now, all you have to do is write up a proposal, pay $200 and it goes to the Attorney General for treatment, then you go get your signatures. So, the bar is pretty low.
One reform that is getting pretty popular would eliminate ballot measures that are unconstitutional early on, before anyone starts spending time on them. This sodomy suppression act, for example, is so blatantly unconstitutional that having the attorney general deal with it at all seems like a huge waste of time and taxpayer money. That early constitutional review is one thing that could actually come out of all this.