Long characterized as cautious, California’s Chief Justice Ronald George shocked his peers when he joined the majority to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “I think there are times when doing the right thing means not playing it safe,” the moderate Republican said, calling the case the most difficult one of his 17 years on the court.
George likened same-sex restrictions to earlier bans on interracial marriage, recounting to the Los Angeles Times a childhood trip to the South in which he saw “No Negro” and “No colored” signs. "When is it that a court should act?" he asked. "When is it that a court is shirking its responsibility by not acting, and when is a court overreaching? That's a real conundrum."