California Court to Hear Proposition 8 Challenge

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Kermit Roosevelt
Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania

Researches and teaches constitutional law and conflict of laws

“When should a majority have the power to take away a constitutional right granted by a court? It's a question that forces us to think about why we have constitutional rights in the first place, and why they are enforced by judges. But it is not simply a theoretical puzzle. All of us enjoy constitutional rights, and most of us are at some point in a minority. All of us could be affected.

“American constitutional practice has generally been to expand rights over time, both by amendment and by judicial decision. Amendments to the federal constitution, for example, gave women and minorities the right to vote. Judicial decisions have expanded the constitutional guarantee of equality to protect more and more groups. Some of these decisions remain intensely controversial, but none has been overruled by a federal amendment.”