Is SOS-NJ Consulting for Gov, Christie:?

When I wrote in my Spotlight editorial on Friday that the existence of charter schools provokes a disproportional response from charter detractors, I was right. 52 comments now append the piece, a NJ Spotlight record! (Hmmm…perhaps I should get paid by the comment.)

One additional thought. A majority of the commenters seems to share the belief that the State Legislature shouldn't have the right to pass laws that delegate the charter school authorization process to some combination of the DOE and other authorizing agencies. Instead, any aspiring charter school should be subjected to a community-wide referendum.

Stay with me here. This past Tuesday Gov. Christie responded to a move by the NJ State Legislature to consider a bill allowing same-sex marriage with this bon mot: “The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South," Christie said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Civil rights on the ballot? Now there’s a lame-brained idea. Reaction was fierce.

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver: “Governor, people were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It took legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker: “Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote, to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and the sentiments of the majority. This is the fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.” Booker added that Jackie Robinson would never have broken baseball’s color barrier if the matter had been put to a vote. (Great video here.)

Steven Goldstein,
head of Garden State Equality: “There would be no civil rights in this country — certainly nowhere near what we have — if it were determined by referendum.” Goldstein added, “a public vote on the issue would not really reflect the will of the people. A referendum reflects which side can corrupt the political system with more money.”

Let’s unpack this. Gov. Christie wants to quash any possibility that NJ would grant civil rights to the gay community. His best avenue towards such a result is to call for a public referendum. He gets to genuflect towards democracy (what’s more democratic than a vote?) while secure in the knowledge that such a referendum wouldn’t pass because it affects a minority of the community.

Great strategy, although everyone seems to be on to him. Maybe he owe SOS-NJ a consulting fee. After all, it’s the same tactic: cloak oneself with the flag and bypass the State Legislature's authority to protect the (educational/civil) rights of a minority community.

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