More recently the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled that Elane Photography, whose owners happened to be Christians, did not have the right to refuse to photograph a same sex marriage ceremony. Eugene Volokh has been blogging about the case and participating as an amicus curae, George Will has weighed in with a column today, but I think it's time to look at the bigger picture. These commissions are an outrageous use of taxpayer dollars. They are pandering to the professional grievance class and not accomplishing anything worthwhile for any of us.
Attempting to research the New Mexico HRC provided very little information. The members are appointed by the Governor, there are supposed to be eleven but there are only seven, and they don't appear to have a website where you can review their rules, cases, and findings. Presumably if you lived in Albuquerque you could stop by their offices and use the Freedom of Information Act to do a bit more digging.
Here are a few things about the Canadian system that came to light during Steyn's battles.
- The various Canadian HRCs had, until recently, a 100% conviction rate
- The rules of evidence and accepted legal protections don't apply. The HRCs pretty much get to make up their own rules as to what is and isn't allowed, placing most of the burden on the defendant to "prove" their innocence.
- The majority of cases heard by the HRCs in Canada are brought by the same few plaintiffs.
We have seen a similar lack of accountability here in the United States as unelected and basically uncontrolled bureaucracies have run roughshod over the rights of citizens. The EPA and the BATFE come to mind. It is the reason that our system was set up with a three part government to provide those checks and balances that disappear when one group of people are put in charge of the rest.
I find it unlikely that the New Mexico HRC is any different, especially based on their actions in this case. So how do we stop it? I have started wondering if there is a way to abolish these commissions as a violation of the right of due process. Rather than constantly reading about high profile cases that have come before these commissions, and wondering how many people didn't have the resources to fight them effectively, how about getting rid of them. I'm not a lawyer so I don't have a particularly good insight into what steps might be available, but it seems to me that having an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy with no set rules of evidence or constitutional protections for the accused just might provide some grounds for challenging their very existence. Maybe if you are actually breaking a law you should be charged with a crime and provided a jury trial where your rights matter instead of being hauled before a kangaroo court.
I hope so.