If you thought the Florida Supreme Court was out of control in November 2000 when it attempted to hand the state’s electoral votes and the presidency to Al Gore, get a load of what these seven robed activists are up to now.
The Supreme Court’s “official arm,” the Florida Bar, in a unanimous vote of its Board of Governors last week, decided officially to endorse “gay adoption.” This is in the same state that in November 2008 saw 62% of its residents approve a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Gay adoption is specifically prohibited by state law.
The Supreme Court’s bar has decided to join the American Civil Liberties Union in a gay adoption case coming down on the side of the gay couple. The trial court ruled recently that gay adoption is a constitutional right, despite the Florida statute prohibiting it.
Florida’s Attorney General, former Congressman Bill McCollum, is appealing the trial court’s ruling, and the bar is going to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the gay adopters and in the name of all of the state’s 82,000 lawyers, many of whom are people of faith and others who oppose gay adoption. Many believe, of course, that gay adoption is simply a portal to get to gay marriage.
So now we have a remarkable situation in which Florida’s Attorney General is appropriately defending this state law on behalf of the executive branch, but the judicial branch, through the Supreme Court’s Florida Bar, is challenging the statute by filing the pro-gay adoption amicus curiae brief. The ACLU represents the gay couple. Thus, we have a schizophrenic patient in the state government itself. The judiciary is supposed to apply and interpret the law, yet here it is actively seeking to strike it down. This is not “judicial independence.” This is judicial activism at its most extreme.
The Florida Bar’s unanimous decision to embroil itself in such a divisive, values-laden, political issue is, of course, unconstitutional. In 1990, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Keller v. State Bar, which holds unconstitutional political action by compulsory state bars on issues unrelated to the well-being of the legal profession. The Court held, quite sensibly, that state bar associations are simply trade organizations whose members should weigh in solely on common ground issues such as the administration of justice and the provision of better legal services to the public.
The High Court in Keller prohibited the California Bar’s meddling in the nuclear freeze issue and other leftwing political causes, in large part because lawyers, like members of labor unions, have a guaranteed First Amendment right of association — namely the right not to have to associate with and fund political views they do not share. Keller is a bright line that the Florida Supreme Court, which is one of the most activist state courts in the country, has willfully chosen to cross.
But there is a great danger here for the Florida Supremes. The U.S. Supreme Court threatened in Keller that if state bars allowed themselves to be politically active then they would run the risk of being dissolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, thereby freeing lawyers to practice without being members of that state bar.
The man behind this effort to turn the Florida Bar into a radical gay rights organization is no longer with us. Steve Chaykin, a Florida Bar Governor before he died this last summer in a freak hiking accident in Colorado, led earlier gay rights efforts to hijack the Florida Bar. Chaykin stated, “Anyone who opposes gay adoption” is among “the enemies of the Bar,” and “is outside the core values of the bar.” The Florida Bar’s about-face is in part a memorial to Chaykin, much as some are intent upon passing universal health care to memorialize Sen. Ted Kennedy’s advocacy for it.
Focus on the Family’s Florida Family Policy Council led the successful effort to ban gay marriage by constitutional amendment here in Florida this past November. Look for the Policy Council and its team of lawyers to file a federal declaratory judgment action to block the Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Bar from violating Keller and U.S. Constitution. Support in the effort to stop the creation of “the Florida Gay Bar” comes from an unexpected source — the ACLU’s own Professor Bruce Rogow, who is quoted in a Florida paper, in a moment of transparency, about the Bar’s backing of gay adoption, “It would be influential. It will say to the court that the leadership of the Bar agrees with the concept, and in these kinds of cases, the law can be made to do what you want it to do. This is more of a policy situation than a constitutional argument, but we always wrap policy around constitutional arguments.”
In 1969, in the Supreme Court case of Lathrop v. Donohue, Justice William O. Douglas, by all assessments a liberal, warned that compulsory state bars would eventually become “goose-stepping brigades” bent upon compelling “ideological conformity upon their members.”
Forty years later, that prediction has come true, in a state many have called Floriduh since Bush v. Gore. More leftwing lunacy is on the way from Floriduh. You can count on it, and if it succeeds, it will be coming to a Bar near you.