In Judge Walker and the Language of the Law , Hadley Arkes quotes the judge’s now somewhat famous declaration that ““Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law,” and remarks that it

is one of only a few score [of the judge’s statements] that have been zinging around the Internet, soaring well beyond the tethers of reason and propositional logic. Walker’s opinion may not hold up on appeal, but his lines could lighten up our lives for years to come as they make their way into fortune cookies.

That is a funny line, in the Arkesian mode, but in the rest of the article he offers a clear explanation of Judge Walker’s claim as the expression of
a trend long in the making, a radical recasting of the language and logic of a “moral” judgment. In the relentless march of “relativism,” good and bad, right and wrong, were translated to mean merely the things we “like” or “dislike,” a matter of personal taste.

And thus “‘Moral judgments’ come down in the end to irrational beliefs; and they could supply then no justification for the law.” Hence Judge Walker’s decision.

Articles by David Mills

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