Skip to comments.Federal Defense of Marriage Act does not violate states’ rights
Posted on 07/29/2010 8:56:57 AM PDT by Kaslin
The federal court in Massachusetts got its history and constitutional law wrong with its ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violates states rights and federalism in defining marriage.
For all federal law, DOMA defines marriage as one man and one woman and spouse to mean a husband or a wife. The district court struck down this federal definition of marriage in two decisions claiming that it intrudes on state sovereignty to regulate marriage, as well as other constitutional provisions.
This extreme decision ignores extensive American history showing federal oversight of the states definition of marriage. But a double standard on federalism lurks here. If states have authority under the 10th Amendment to define marriage, why are federal courts, like the one in San Francisco, not immediately upholding state constitutional definitions of marriage, such as the one currently under attack in California? Is it because California voters chose to define marriage the wrong way as one man and one woman?
The federal government does not infringe on that state authority when Congress defines legal terms for its own laws that it enacts. Congress needs to define marriage for such purposes as federal tax laws, veterans benefits, etc.
Although state governments regulate marriage, as the federal court ruled, they have no authority to redefine marriage. This is clear from the important half century of American history from the 1800s that the court ignored, of Congress requiring new states to ban polygamy (that is, define marriage as one man and one woman) as a condition of statehood.
When the Utah Territory first applied for statehood in 1848, its Mormon-dominated legislature claimed the power to legalize polygamy. Congress refused to allow it, so it conditioned Utahs statehood on its agreement to amend its state constitution to ban polygamy. Additionally, Congress required Utah to agree that this anti-polygamy provision of its state constitution could never be changed without permission from Congress. So, when first confronted with a state seeking to redefine marriage, Congress said no.
Utah refused, triggering a half century of court battles and conflicts. The Republican Partys response in its first platform (1856) pledged to ban the twin relics of barbarism in the territories slavery and polygamy. As federal authorities cracked down on polygamy in Utah, the polygamists claims for a constitutional right to polygamous marriages reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1885, the Supreme Court ruled in Murphy v. Ramsey that it is constitutional for Congress, when setting the conditions for a territory to take rank as one of the coordinate states of the Union, to require those new states to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Congress viewed it essential that all states hold to the same definition of marriage. Utah finally agreed and became a state in 1896. Four other states have anti-polygamy provisions in their state constitutions.
This respect for states rights in Massachusetts disappears in the federal court challenge to the California marriage amendment, which began as Proposition 8. If the definition of marriage is solely a state concern, then the federal court should have quickly dismissed the lawsuit challenging Californias amendment. But because it defines marriage as one man and one woman, its opponents claim it violates the 14th Amendments guarantees of equal protection and due process.
This creates a nifty double team to batter marriage laws. If states redefine marriage to include members of the same sex, the activists are willing to say that the states are exercising their independent authority under our federalist system (even when Massachusetts high court imposed this result by a 4-3 decree). But 10th Amendment autonomy disappears when activists challenge the constitutionality of state laws defining marriage as one man and one woman. So, states have total freedom to define marriage unless, of course, they define it the wrong way.
Over time, this constitutional double teaming will not produce marriage equality, but marriage deterioration as a matter of law. No state will be allowed to maintain a uniform definition of marriage because every person will have the right to marry the person(s) of his or her choice. If every government must acquiesce to each individuals marriage choices, the legal concept of marriage will erode and eventually dissipate. This may inspire current-day polygamists to challenge those old Supreme Court decisions as obsolete. Apparently they could find a friendly federal court in Massachusetts.
Way too many courts these days being run by bozos.
This article hits the nail on the head. The absurd legal reasoning is that states rights to define marriage is contingent on them defining it the “correct” way, meaning to allow homosexual marriage.
The federal court challenge to Prop. 8 in California is especially galling. In that case, after the voters approved Proposition 8, the California Supreme Court ruled that the voters did indeed have the right to define marriage in the state constitution. The same judges who had imposed homosexual marriage on California upheld the right of the people to define marriage. So Proposition 8 complies with all state laws.
Clearly this is a legal train wreck. I fully understand the gay activists want 50 state homosexual marriage, and God knows what else in the future. But legally, this will be a mess. On the one hand, Mass. has a state’s right to define marriage as any two people, regardless of sex. But California may well NOT have a right under federal law to define marriage.
And the liberals wonder why conservatives don’t understand their thinking and reasoning abilities sometimes............
Early on several of those involved with designing what would become USA had concerns that the new federal entity would become an overreaching and invasive force in our lives.
It’s taken a bit longer than they probably thought it would, but they certainly had it right in view of all that’s going on today.
The kiss of death turned out to be money. Not that that surprise anyone. The feds soon learned to bait the trap with money. And we took the bait, hook, line and sinker. States and other entities were only too happy to have the taxpayers all over the country pick up the tab for projects in their jurisdiction. And the recipients took the money and ran, oblivious to the strings attached to it. And every time the money was offered a new string was attached. One by one the number of strings grew, as did the recipients’ dependency on the money.
We now see the end result of the game. And I’m not sure how we turn back the clock to the point where things local voters considered important enough to provide they considered important enough to fund without giving up control.
Here the liberal judge says states have the right to over-rule the federal definition of marriage,
BUT in Arizona the liberal judge rules that Arizona state law interferes with the Obama administrations immigration policy by duplicating federal law, and the WH/justice department federal policy takes precedent over both state and federal law. Notice anything in common with the decisions??
The legal reasoning in the Mass. marriage decision and the Arizona immigration decision confirms that there is no consistent legal reasoning, in the areas of states rights vs. federal laws.
The legal reasoning used by liberals, MSM, judges, etc. will be whatever legal reasoning supports the liberal position on any given issue.
Does federal law trump states rights? Do states rights trump federal law in certain areas? There are legal precedents which courts could review, but, in the liberal mind, there’s no need to do that. Liberals make up legal reasoning as they go along, depending on which reasoning supports a liberal view on an issue. And the useful idiots in the MSM will never call them on this.
” Yeah, they both suck, just like 0bama and his fellow communists. “
This ruling doesn’t square with the Arizona ruling - you can’t have it both ways. First, the Feds say that Federal supremacy over the State negates Arizona’s attempt at self-survival. Next you have this ruling saying that the States rights are violated?? Which way is it guys!?!