Immediately after I launched the FIRE SARAH ZABEL! campaign, I started to write the first of what I had hoped would be many anti-Sarah blogs intended to help her opponent oust her from the bench. Unfortunately, within days of gearing up for a lively election, I heard the news that her opponent dropped out of the race.
For the second time in as many weeks (the first being the sanitation privatization blog), I trashed a blog without going to press.
What I also didn’t end up publishing was my commentary on an important case that’s come before Sarah Zabel in which the plaintiffs are seeking to overturn a Florida Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. As I reported in Can I get an Oy Vey?, this will be a precedent setting and historic trial, and will put Sarah Zabel in the national spotlight. Her decision will have a huge impact on one of the most controversial issues in the country.
An article published on May 2, 2014 in the Daily Business Review, Justice Watch: Gay Marriage Suits Puts Judge Zabel in Spotlight, discusses a minor controversy surrounding Zabel that arose even before the first hearing was held. A motion was previously filed by the defendant, Miami-Dade Clerk of Court Harvey Ruvin, to put the case on hold “until federal litigation on the matter runs its course.” His “office submitted the motion to abate, arguing the issue involves federal and constitutional law and that the state lawsuit should be stayed.”
Unsurprisingly, conservative groups are encouraging Zabel to grant the motion in an effort to stall the trial. Zabel moved the hearing, originally scheduled for April 23, 2014, to tomorrow. Those critics have accused her of doing so in order “to avoid garnering opposition in the upcoming judicial election” before the case could move forward.
One such opposing candidate, in fact, withdrew from the race because of the potential controversy. According to the article, Marianne Salazar backed out because “her pending candidacy may unwittingly be used by conservative groups against Zabel.” It appears that Salazar is herself a conservative, which makes me admire her even more for choosing not to be used as a political pawn, even as I’m sorry that she decided to drop out of the race.
Salazar also stated that Zabel’s “growing war chest” of $180,000.00 was another reason to leave the race. I had suspected as much even before I knew that the pot had increased by $100,000.00 since the Daily Business Review reported it on February 21, 2014. That alone would be a tough battle for a completely unknown challenger to face.
Another issue that crossed my mind about Sarah Zabel’s jurisdiction over this particular case is whether or not the fact that she is an Orthodox Jew would have any bearing on her final decision.
The website Judaism 101: Kosher Sex, states that “Sex is permissible only within the confines of a marriage.” It also declares that “the sin of sexual relations between men is punishable by death (Lev. 20:13), as are the sins of adultery and incest.”
If Zabel is an observant Jew, and I have every reason to believe this to be true, I wondered if she would be able to set aside her personal beliefs and be impartial enough to issue a fair decision – one that is based solely on the law and how convincingly the case is presented by both parties to the lawsuit.
If you believe Zabel’s many supporters who “have rallied around her,” as indicated by the Daily Business Review, she is the right person for the job. When the conservative groups started pressuring Zabel, her allies set up “a spur-of-a-moment fundraiser co-sponsored by no less than 20 law firms.” Apparently they do believe she will rule judiciously.
A bit more encouraging for the plaintiffs are the some of the conclusions drawn in an article published in the American Judges Association by Brian H. Bornstein and Monica K. Miller entitled, Does a Judge’s Religion Influence Decision Making?
While the research cited in the article indicates that a judge’s religion may be “important predictors of their decisions,” it is interesting to note that the authors concluded that “Jewish judges, on average, are consistently more liberal, arguably because of their stronger identification with the downtrodden and disenfranchised, owing to their own outsider status.” The article, however, does not distinguish between Orthodox Jews and their more liberal counterparts.
Be that as it may, the authors conclude that “religion is yet another factor to consider in trying to understand and predict judges’ decisions.”
Despite that caveat, Sarah Zabel’s supporters are apparently of the opinion that she would not let any personal beliefs that she might hold have any influence on her judgment in this case.
It is my hope that whatever the outcome, the rule of law will prevail. The real question being deliberated, in my opinion, is whether or not it is legally permissible for the Courts to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters. The Daily Business Review article stated, “The lawsuit in front of Zabel, as well as two in federal court in Tallahassee and one in front of Monroe County judge, challenge the constitutionality of the amendment passed by voters in 2008 banning same-sex marriage.”
Whether Sarah Zabel personally approves or disapproves of same-sex marriage should have no bearing on her decision in this case. The issue at hand is whether or not the law is unconstitutional and should be overturned by the Courts, or that a “lawsuit seeking to overturn a historic election, overthrow our state constitution and undermine the rule of law is despicable and un-American,” as claimed by the conservative groups.
As much as I would have loved to spend the next four months digging dirt on, and trashing the hell out of, Sarah Zabel (whose only crime really is that she’s married to the most indisputably despicable man in North Miami Beach, EX-Mayor/current FELONY defendant Myron Rosner), the fact is that the case before her is bigger and infinitely more important than Myron. The stakes are huge, to say the least, and the outcome of this trial could have a tremendous impact on constitutional law, not only for Florida, but for the rest of the country as well.
In the scheme of things, when compared to constitutional law, Myron is as insignificant as a sand flea.
Even if I have way too much fun screwing with him.
Whatever the final outcome of this trial, the real issue at hand is that the judicial decision handed down should be based solely on the rule of law.
After doing the research for this column, and thoughtfully considering all aspects of the case, I surprisingly find myself hoping that Sarah Zabel is up to the challenge.
How weird is that?
“Spreading the Wealth”