Should a Mormon Judge Prop 8?
The three-judge federal Appeals Court panel has been announced for next week’s hearing on Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Shockingly, one of the judges (a George W Bush 2007 appointee to the federal appeals court) is a graduate of Brigham Young University, both undergraduate and law school. While a very small percentage of non-Mormons attend BYU, I think we can presume that an Idaho native who still lives in that state — and whose last name is Smith — is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Not for nothing is Proposition 8 known as The Mormon Proposition. The LDS elders have been shown, through documentary evidence, to have developed a decades-long alliance with the Roman Catholic heirarchy, beginning in Hawaii and flourishing in California and continuing in Argentina, to defeat marriage equality every step of the way. Official church resources were directed throughout the campaign at Prop 8’s passage. Testimony in Vaughn Walker’s courtroom shows that the Mormon Church, in its official capacity, directed the political involvement and tithe-donation of its members worldwide to the passage of Prop 8. This was an organized political fundraising effort to fundamentally change California’s civil rights laws.
Did Judge N. Randy Smith support that effort?
These are my questions for Judge N. Randy Smith:
— did you follow the dictates of your church elders?
— did you make a special contribution to assist with Prop 8’s passage?
— did you ask that your regular church tithe be segregated from activities supportive of Prop 8?
— have you taken a lead in your local stake in raising money?
— did you urge fellow LDS members to spend money or devote other resources to the passage of Prop 8?
— did you defy your church’s leaders and ignore their requests for special support of Prop 8?
In our plural system, the religion of judges should not matter. But when one denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church), directs the campaign for, sponsors, and funds the passage of a referendum that adds to a state’s constitution a ban on civil marriage, Americans have the right to know what their civil judges’ church involvement in the passage of that ban was. . . .
Just because it happened within the confines of a church doesn’t make it protected political speech that an impartial judge can join.
If Judge Smith can show us that, in defiance of his church’s teachings and instruction, he has not taken a stand or contributed to the passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008 or assisted the church in its continued support of the defendant-intervenors’ case in favor of the marriage equality ban, then I will be satisfied that he brings the necessary cold, blind eye of justice to bear on Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision.
Until that time, N. Randy Smith is a suspect judge. He must recuse himself on the basis that his church’s teachings and activism, and the demands church leadership made of its members, disqualify him from rendering an impartial decision on Proposition 8.
UPDATE: Commenters at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker point out that other Mormons have had their BYU degrees revoked and been excommunicated for going against Church teachings on marriage equality. Can Judge Smith rule fairly if his livelihood as a judge is at risk? If the university that granted his undergraduate and law degrees can revoke them, isn’t he subject to blackmail by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? He can’t very well continue to serve as a judge if he no longer has a law degree, and the Church can and might revoke his academic credentials for fairly hearing, and adversely ruling on, the Prop 8 case.