Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Maldonado Defends Not Filing Appeal of Proposition 8 Ruling
Acting Governor Says He Was ‘Focused on San Bruno,’ Never Discussed Same-Sex Marriage Case With Schwarzenegger
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado said yesterday he did not file an appeal from a federal court ruling striking down the state’s anti-same-sex marriage initiative because he was focused on other matters and had not discussed the matter with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Maldonado, in an interview with conservative radio talk show host Eric Hogue, acknowledged that callers had jammed his office phone lines urging him to act in the matter. Maldonado, pursuant to the state Constitution, has been acting as governor because Schwarzenegger is in Asia on a trade mission.
“I was focused on San Bruno, I was focused on Bell, and I hadn’t discussed it with the governor,” he told Hogue. “Proposition 8”—which Maldonado supported—“was not discussed” at all, he said.
San Bruno Focus
Maldonado went to San Mateo County to oversee emergency operations resulting from the gas explosion that destroyed a neighborhood and killed at least four people there last Thursday. He also signed legislation relating to the recent disclosure of extraordinary salary payments to officials, and other possible irregularities, in the mile-square city of Bell, including one that authorizes distribution of certain tax overpayments directly to city residents.
Monday was the deadline for the state to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker that Proposition 8, enacted in November 2008 and amending the state Constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause,
Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown and the Republican governor did not defend the measure in the trial court and have refused to authorize an appeal by the state. Proponents of the measure who intervened in the district court have filed their own putative appeal, but Walker, in denying their request for a stay of his ruling—a stay was later granted by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—said it was “at least doubtful” they had standing to appeal.
The California Supreme Court last week rejected a petition by a conservative legal group seeking to force Brown and Schwarzenegger to appeal.
Maldonado explained on the Hogue program that he and the governor “have a partnership here,” and that it was understood when his fellow Republican appointed him earlier this year—to fill the vacancy caused by John Garamendi’s election to Congress—that they would disagree on certain issues, including same-sex marriage. But when he and Schwarzenegger met before the governor left the state to discuss what actions he would take on various subjects, Proposition 8 did not come up, he said.
If the governor had told him to make his own decision on the matter, he said, “we would have moved forward in one way or another.” But after the unanticipated tragedy in San Bruno, he said, there was no communication with the governor on the issue of Proposition 8, and he gave no thought to it at all, he said.
In recent history, California’s acting governors have generally deferred to the wishes of absent governors and have not acted unilaterally with respect to controversial matters, even when the governor and lieutenant governor were of opposite parties.
A notable exception was the period between 1979 and 1983 when Brown was governor and Republican Mike Curb held the No. 2 post and undertook a number of steps, including nominating a judge to the state Court of Appeal, an action Brown rescinded when he returned to the state. Subsequent lieutenant governors have avoided any such controversies.
‘Negligence and Arrogance’
Karen England, executive director of the socially conservative Capitol Resource Institute, said Maldonado’s lack of response to a campaign of letter-writing, faxing, and emailing, “negligence and arrogance and aloofness that suggested he was more concerned that we busied his phones than anything else.”
Former law school dean and Republican primary runner-up for attorney general John Eastman said he filled out paperwork for the appeal and offered to file it for Maldonado, who is running against Democrat Gavin Newsom to keep the lieutenant governor’s post. Eastman suggested yesterday, in a statement released by Capitol Resource Institute, that “the massive effort by the citizens of California to persuade the acting governor to file the appeal is one more piece of evidence to be presented in court to show that every effort was made to have the State defend this measure,” and said “[t]his will hopefully tilt the Court toward holding that the proponents of the initiative have standing even absent the government defendants.”
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