US Supreme Court to rule on marriage in June, but can’t settle the issue
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments today on legal redefinition of marriage at the federal level in one of the most anticipated cases ever before the nation’s high court.
Ten-plus years of legal fights and judicial fiats overturning the will of the people in a large number of U.S. states culminated in the Court agreeing in January to rule on whether there is a constitutional right to homosexual “marriage,” consolidating appeals at the time from cases in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, and Ohio.
In November the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Ohio, upheld the constitutionality of marriage protection amendments in those four states, a first of its kind federal appellate ruling, paving the way for the Supreme Court intervention.
The Supreme Court had rejected petitions from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin to review appeals court decisions overturning their amendments protecting natural marriage a month earlier in October. The decision opened the door to homosexual “marriage” in those states as well as six other states that are subject to the same appeals courts.
A record number of friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in the Supreme Court case, according to NPR. The Court is reporting 148 of them, which surpasses the previous record of 136 for the 2013 Obamacare case, and demonstrates the high stakes of the issue.
Natural marriage has been dismantled in a majority of U.S. states by judicial decree. Of the 36 states where homosexual “marriage” is already legal, 28 of those were imposed by the courts.
Two hearings are scheduled before the Supreme Court that will address the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment compels states to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, and if it obliges states to recognize homosexual “marriages” licensed in other states.
Religious leaders, conservatives, and legal and constitutional scholars decried the idea of the federal judiciary forcing marriage redefinition across the country.
“There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage,” Dr. Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Catholic News Agency. “Since there’s good arguments on both sides of this debate, unelected judges shouldn’t simply insert their own policy views about marriage and then declare them required by the Constitution.”
“The argument that there is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation just doesn’t work,” attorney Gene Schaerr said at an April 20 Heritage Foundation panel discussion on state marriage laws. “These cases that the Court has before it now are really an attempt to tempt the Court to take away from the people their ordinary right in our Constitutional order to decide difficult policy issues through democratic means.”
The Thomas More Society was among those who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, and the legal society’s attorneys urged the Court in a statement today to uphold states’ rights and the will of the people.
Quoting Professor Robert P. George, an expert on natural marriage, the Thomas More Society told the Court that, “The family is the fundamental unit of society. … [F]amilies ... produce something that governments need but, on their own, they could not possibly produce: upright, decent people who make honest law-abiding, public-spirited citizens,” the statement said in part. “And marriage is the indispensable foundation of the family. To alter the definition of marriage is to destroy the very foundation of society.”
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the Supreme Court would not resolve the issue regardless of its decision.
“The court is not going to settle this issue,” Perkins said. “In fact I think it does a disservice to both sides if the court weighs in on public policy like this.”
The courts are supposed to interpret the Constitution and the constitutionality of laws, not create public policy, he said, and when they do that they create division and erect barriers to reach a consensus on public policy.
“So, no, we stand with millennia of experience that the union of a man and a woman, the sacred union of marriage is the cornerstone of society. That’s where kids learn to become citizens,” said Perkins. “This is not about the marriage altar, this is about fundamentally altering the culture."
A recent survey commissioned by the FRC and the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) found that a majority of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to impose homosexual “marriage” on the states.
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“They think it’s best left to the states. That’s how we come to a consensus in this country,” Perkins stated. “As abortion remains an issue 42 years later in every election from president on down, it will continue to be an issue.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has produced a documentary through his EchoLight Studios on the threat to religious freedom through the legal redefinition of marriage titled, One Generation Away.
"It is an increasing view that if you are not with this new orthodoxy, the secularism that is now coming from the government, that these are the values that the government values,” Santorum said. “If you don't live up to those values, well then you can be persecuted and maybe even prosecuted for doing so."
Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are also part of a group that signed a pledge to defy a Supreme Court ruling that would strike down state’s constitutional amendments protecting natural marriage, according to On Top Magazine. Former House Republican leader Tom Delay and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson also signed the pledge.
Another pledge was drafted as well by a group of various religious leaders; it also included Dobson, and was released by Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and Catholic Online’s Deacon Keith Fournier co-authored the Defend Marriage Pledge, which also received unanimous support from the largest Hispanic Evangelical organization, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Counsel.
“A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order,” it states in part. “As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.”
A ruling is expected before the end of the Court's term in late June.