June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Crosses the Line and Delegitimizes Its Authority By Striking Down DOMA

LC.org

Today, the Supreme Court released opinions on California’s Proposition 8 state marriage amendment (Prop 8) and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Justice Kennedy, writing the DOMA decision under an Equal Protection rationale, strikes down Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law and federal benefits, specifically joint federal tax returns, Social Security survivor benefits, and federal employee health insurance and medical benefits. Not at issue in this ruling are the other parts of DOMA, including the section that says states may define their own marriage policy and are not required to accept a sister state’s same-sex marriage.

Regarding the Prop 8 case, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the 5-4 decision of the Court, dismissed the case on standing, meaning that the Court lacks jurisdiction to reach the merits because the Prop 8 Intervenors lacked standing to litigate the case, after the California State Attorney General ceased defending it following the lower federal district court opinion. This means that the lower court governing the Northern District of California stands. Thus, only the decision striking down Prop 8 by the lower district court remains in effect. The remaining parts of California are unaffected. No doubt litigation will ensue in the Southern and Middle Districts of California.

Marriage predates government and civil authorities. No civil authority, including the Supreme Court, has the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage was not created by religion or government and is ontologically a union of one man and one woman. For any Court or civil authority to think it has the authority to redefine marriage is the height of hubris. Deconstructing marriage will hurt children and society. While today’s decision on DOMA did not redefine marriage, it has provided the foundation on which to do so. Today’s decision is the equivalent of the 1972 contraception decision involving unmarried couples and the so-called right to privacy on which the 1973 abortion decision in Roe v. Wade was constructed. Today, the Supreme Court has damaged its image, lost legitimacy, and set in motion considerable harm to society and to the State of the Union.

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