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Yesterday at the Prop 8 Trial: Plaintiffs Rest, Initiative Expert Called

Shannon Minter reports on the first witness called by Prop 8 proponents in the federal trial, Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna College who teaches politics and is an "expert" in the ballot initiative process.

Miller Minter, writing for Pams House Blend, called Miller's testimony, "as an expert on the political power of gay men and lesbians in California and nationally," simplistic:

In addition to offering a surprisingly superficial account of political power, Prof. Miller made several admissions that undermined his credibility as an expert.  Under a withering cross-examination by David Boies, Prof. Miller admitted that, at the time of his deposition, he did not know how many states prohibited sexual orientation discrimination.  He did not recognize many of the leading scholars on gay politics and history, and acknowledged that he had not read their work.  He could not offer an opinion on whether gay people have more political power than African-Americans, even though much more of his scholarship has dealt with the African-American community than the LGBT community.  He also declined to comment on the level of prejudice and negative stereotyping LGBT people face compared to other groups such as African-Americans or women.  Prof. Miller did concede that lesbians must face more prejudice than other women, however, because they experience discrimination on the basis of both gender and sexual orientation.  

Boies also questioned Prof. Miller at length about articles Prof. Miller has authored or coauthored that are critical of the initiative process.  In fact, at times, it almost seemed that Prof. Miller might have been offered as an expert by the plaintiffs on the dangers of the initiative process.   For example, Prof. Miller has written that initiatives violate the democratic norms of openness, fairness, and accountability and tend to preclude compromise and informed deliberation.  When asked if he still agreed with those statements, Prof. Miller agreed that he did.

Yesterday, I posted that the plaintiffs had rested their case, but not before unloading a barrage of damning documents and videos against the Prop 8 side. Here's how Rick Jacobs at the Courage campaign characterized the evidence:

Gallagher “This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.”

“Finally, this morning we saw indisputable, documented evidence in the form of emails and videos that Ron Prentice and Protect Marriage coordinated closely and relied upon the Catholic Church, the LDS Church, the Family Research Council, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and the National Organization for Marriage to get Prop. 8 on the ballot and to win through a campaign of lies.”

“Last week, the Supreme Court erased decades of precedent by ruling that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to speech. Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”

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  1. Thanks for your posts on this issue - I can't think of another blog or new source that sums up the status of the trial better!

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 26, 2010 10:22:44 AM

  2. has been doing a great job of covering the trial in detail.

    It's really something. Our lives, our histories and ALL our issues have been put on the record by Boies and company. People will be referring to this trial for decades.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jan 26, 2010 10:35:50 AM

  3. Am I the only one a little bit troubled by appears to be putting another group of people's political views, apparently, on trial?

    If the case for marriage equality is a constitutional one, what does the political actions of the other side have anything to do it?

    Best I can tell, it's about establishing enough evidence to allow for gay rights to be viewed under the most favorable level of legal scrutiny. But still. A coalition of our opponents were engaged in political organizing.

    To paraphrase Casablanca: There's an election here and I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that there's politics going on!

    Posted by: oneway | Jan 26, 2010 11:10:06 AM

  4. "Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”

    Let's hope that pigs have wings while we're at it.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jan 26, 2010 11:13:18 AM

  5. I can't believe this trial is even necessary. The majority should never be able to subvert any minority, period! Due process and taxation without representation are the only clauses needed to overturn the results of Prop 8

    Posted by: ty | Jan 26, 2010 11:23:09 AM

  6. @TY: Right?!

    Posted by: DEREK WASHINGTON | Jan 26, 2010 11:42:26 AM

  7. One thing I find extremely telling is that on all the Yes on 8 blogs, commenting is disabled. And on the No on 8 blogs, hundreds of comments are being logged. Could it be that the Yes on 8 people are actually without defense? That their arguments just don't hold up? Can they not tolerate dissension in their blogs? I read the transcripts every day. And I am shocked at how the defense keeps proving our side's case. We have nothing to hide. Every statement from the Yes on 8 people can be shot down.

    Posted by: Sean | Jan 26, 2010 12:31:32 PM

  8. the dangerous thing upcoming is that SCOTUS is about to make the leap from corporation to Church -- that is right Church -- can bankroll politicians and preach a way to vote! It has begun -- if corporations can fund politicians, then churches can fund political movements. A Big Slippery Slope.

    Posted by: David B. 2 | Jan 26, 2010 2:40:51 PM

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