3judicial determination) that the statutory provisions granting such rights toregistered domestic partners are unconstitutional because they improperly amendor repeal the provisions of the voter-enacted initiative measure commonly knownas Proposition 22, the California Defense of Marriage Act (Fam. Code, § 308.5)without a confirming vote of the electorate, in violation of article II, section 10,subdivision (c) of the California Constitution.As these various examples demonstrate, although the present proceedingmay be viewed by some as presenting primarily a question of the substantive legalrights of same-sex couples, in actuality the legal issue before us implicates theinterest of all individuals in ensuring that public officials execute their officialduties in a manner that respects the limits of the authority granted to them asofficeholders. In short, the legal question at issue — the scope of the authorityentrusted to our public officials — involves the determination of a fundamentalquestion that lies at the heart of our political system: the role of the rule of law ina society that justly prides itself on being “a government of laws, and not of men”(or women).
As indicated above, that issue
phrased in the narrow terms presented bythis case
is whether a local executive official, charged with the ministerial duty
The phrase “a government of laws, and not of men” was authored by JohnAdams (Adams, Novanglus Papers, No. 7 (1774), reprinted in 4 Works of JohnAdams (Charles Francis Adams ed. 1851) p. 106), and was included as part of theseparation of powers provision of the initial Massachusetts Constitution adopted in1780. (Mass. Const. (1780) Part The First, art. XXX.) The separation of powersprovision of that state’s Constitution remains unchanged to this day, and reads infull: “In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shallnever exercise the executive and judicial powers or either of them; the executiveshall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them; thejudicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them:
to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men
.” (Italics added.)