Tennessee county lawsuit: SCOTUS gay ‘marriage’ ruling invalid
CLEVELAND, Tennessee, February 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A former state senator in Tennessee is challenging the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS)'s gay marriage declaration.
Former State Senator David Fowler and Bradley County Commissioner Howard Thompson have filed a lawsuit to stop the county from issuing marriage licenses in light of the Supreme Court's ruling last year that Tennessee's marriage law was invalid. They hope the lawsuit will go all the way to the Supreme Court itself and result in the overturning of the Obergefell v. Hodges case.
Fowler, who filed a similar lawsuit in Franklin last month, works with the Constitutional Government Defense Fund, an arm of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, an affiliate of the Family Research Center. He says the SCOTUS marriage decision invalidated state marriage laws that acknowledge the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, which Tennessee's marriage law specifically does; therefore, Tennessee has no valid marriage laws and cannot issue marriage licenses.
In 2006, Tennessee passed a constitutional amendment codifying the definition of marriage, which the state had upheld legally for twenty years. But the SCOTUS decision struck down those laws.
The crux of the Fowler lawsuit is the argument that the Supreme Court cannot make laws. "While the Court may rule a state law invalid, it cannot judicially impose a new marriage law on a state," Fowler reasoned. "Only legislative bodies can enact new laws or amend existing ones."
"The Supreme Court of the United States ... purported to do two things that are mutually exclusive: rule a law invalid, and then rule that everyone has a right to get married under [that] invalid[ated] law," Fowler explained. "That inconsistency must be pointed out, raised, and resolved."
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Thomas H. Castelli of the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union calls the lawsuits "just another attempt to get around the Supreme Court's ruling that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right."
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews, "I am sure that the defenders of same-sex 'marriage' would argue that the Supreme Court's ruling does not actually nullify the marriage laws of Tennessee. All it does is render one part of those laws (the part limiting the issuance of marriage licenses to couples of the opposite sex) unenforceable while leaving the rest of the law intact."
"However," Sprigg continued, "the lawsuit does illustrate an important point about our political system – it is not the appropriate role of the courts in our constitutional system to re-write laws. This is the very definition of 'judicial activism,' and it is certainly what the Supreme Court did in its ruling on the definition of marriage."