Ac­tivist judges be­ware: Vot­ers fa­vor tra­di­tional mar­riage

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Alan E. Sears

Abra­ham Lin­coln once fa­mously said, “Democ­racy is the gov­ern­ment of the peo­ple, by the peo­ple, for the peo­ple.” The U.S. Supreme Court will be chal­lenged to up­hold Lin­coln’s prin­ci­ple as it de­cides whether to hear four cases chal­leng­ing the fed­eral De­fense of Mar­riage Act (DOMA) and one case chal­leng­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s Propo­si­tion 8, which af­firmed mar­riage as be­tween one man and one woman through a di­rect vote of the peo­ple.

What is be­ing weighed in the bal­ance is a fun­da­men­tal un­der­stand­ing of the role of the ju­di­ciary and that of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. The Supreme Court should re­view these cases and rule that the mat­ter should be left for Amer­i­cans, not the ju­di­ciary, to de­cide.

Ac­cord­ing to our Found­ing Fathers, the pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity of the ju­di­cial branch is to in­ter­pret and ap­ply laws ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. Any de­vi­a­tion from this duty ex­ceeds the ju­di­ciary’s le­git­i­mate author­ity and in­fringes on the peo­ple’s rights.

Al­though the main­stream me­dia, Hol­ly­wood and cul­tural trend­set­ters have al­ready de­creed that mar­riage can and should be re­de­fined, the Amer­i­can peo­ple have said oth­er­wise. The time-hon­ored tradition of mar­riage as the union of one man and one woman is not some­thing ar­bi­trary, to be de­ter­mined at will by the most vo­cal ac­tivists. Rather, it is a bedrock so­cial in­sti­tu­tion pre­de­ter­mined by God and nat­u­ral law. It has im­mutable pur­poses that can­not be changed, no mat­ter how much any­one de­sires to do so. The Amer­i­can peo­ple agree.

In fact, when the cit­i­zens of var­i­ous states have had the op­por­tu­nity to vote on mar­riage, Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly have voted to pre­serve it as is. To date, 32 states have up­held mar­riage as the union of one man and one woman from 1998 to 2012.

These votes are from peo­ple of all faiths, backgrounds and ori­gins — even peo­ple with­out any reli­gious af­fil­i­a­tion or be­lief — liv­ing in red and blue states, span­ning both coasts, as well the north­ern and south­ern parts of the coun­try. They all agree on one im­por­tant point: the def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage as the union of one man and one woman.

Throughout the his­tory of these 32 state votes, the vot­ers have ex­pressed their sov­er­eign will, and at times, it has been con­trary to the de­ci­sions of courts, leg­is­la­tures and po­lit­i­cal forces of ev­ery va­ri­ety. Judges should not ar­bi­trar­ily dis­re­gard the will of the peo­ple and im­pose their will through ju­di­cial de­cree. When they have, the peo­ple, to whom judges are ac­count­able, have im­posed se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

In 2009, in the case of Var­num v. Brien, seven Iowa Supreme Court jus­tices unan­i­mously im­posed a re­def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage on the peo­ple of Iowa that Iowans clearly did not want.

A year later, the peo­ple re­moved three of those judges from of­fice fol­low­ing a ju­di­cial re­ten­tion elec­tion. Jus­tice David Wig­gins, one of the seven judges in ques­tion, could also be re­moved on Nov. 6 when peo­ple cast their vote on the fate of his seat. More­over, last year, the New York state leg­is­la­ture be­came the first with a Repub­li­can-con­trolled cham­ber to ap­prove mar­riage be­tween ho­mo­sex­ual cou­ples. Dur­ing the pri­maries, vot­ers didn’t for­get. Repub­li­can Sen. Roy McDon­ald, who voted to re­de­fine mar­riage, was de­feated by pro-life, pro-fam­ily Kathy Marchione. Sen. Carl Kruger and Sen. Shirley Huntley, both Democrats, were also voted out. Repub­li­can Sen. James Alesi from Rochester ap­par­ently saw the writ­ing on the wall and chose not to run.

Amer­i­cans over­whelm­ingly want elected of­fi­cials to re­spect mar­riage. The peo­ple’s mes­sage is clear: In the end, only rep­re­sen­ta­tives who share their val­ues and their views for the fu­ture of so­ci­ety will get elected and re­main in of­fice.

Al­though many in the me­dia twist the sta­tis­tics to claim that we are a coun­try di­vided over mar­riage, their clam­or­ing ig­nores the fact that mar­riage is a uni­fy­ing prin­ci­ple in our na­tion, as a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers have so far demon­strated.

This is not to say the is­sue is not be­ing de­bated in Amer­ica. Clearly it is — but that’s just the point. It is up to “we the peo­ple,” not to the judges who serve us, to de­ter­mine the fate of mar­riage. The Supreme Court should ac­cept the mar­riage cases com­ing be­fore it and make that clear.

The vot­ing record demon­strates that this is what the peo­ple want, and the peo­ple are the boss. Alan E. Sears, a for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor dur­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion, is CEO of the Al­liance De­fend­ing Free­dom.

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