The Court-Curbing Cause Celebrates Victories!
By Virginia Armstrong, Ph.D., National Chairman
Court-curbing Constitutionalist efforts achieved several victories in July, making this month our most successful month on record! These victories have been both judicial and legislative and have occurred at both the national and state level. One victory directly limited court jurisdiction; another expressed strong Senatorial commitment to our national motto, sounding a signal to courts to beware of attacking the motto; and several involved courts' making sound decisions which saw the courts curbing themselves.
The Pledge Protection Act (H.R. 2389) passed the U. S. House by a majority of 260 votes. This is a double victory because in the previous Congress, the House passed the bill by a smaller vote of 243 votes. The bill withdraws from federal courts the power to hear challenges to the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and now goes to the Senate, where passage is more uncertain. The current flurry of court cases challenging the Pledge make imperative the immediate passage of this bill.
The Senate passed Concurrent Resolution 96 supporting the phrase "In God We Trust" as our national motto. The Senate vote was unanimous. Introduced by Sen. Brownback (R-KS). The Senate expressed its intent "To commemorate, celebrate, and reaffirm the national motto the United States on the 50th anniversary of its formal adoption." The Resolution begins with the recognition that "from the colonial beginnings of the United States, citizens of the Nation have officially acknowledged their dependence on God." The document contains a number of other affirmations of the Godly history of America and is well worth reading.
The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the amendment to the Nebraska State Constitution outlawing same-sex marriages (Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning). Deciding against the state's arguments that gay marriage supporters lacked standing to raise the constitutional challenge to the amendment and that their claims were not ripe for review, the Circuit Judges heard the case on the merits. This proved to be a victory for judicial restraint and pro-marriage advocates, as the Court found that the Nebraska Constitutional amendment did not violate the national Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, First Amendment freedom of association, nor the Constitution's prohibition on Bills of Attainder (legislative acts that pronounce an individual guilty of a crime without a trial and other appropriate procedures).
- State Level: Three state courts have issued rulings reflecting judicial self-restraint and decisions favorable to traditional marriage.
The New York Court of Appeals (that state's highest court), in a set of cases generally referred to as Hernandez v. Robles, ruled that the New York State Constitution does not require the state to recognize same-sex marriage. Several vital and dispositive arguments were made in favor of traditional marriage, arguments which we will discuss at length in a later "Court Watch Briefing." Two examples suffice now. First, the New York Justices noted that the U. S. Supremes have recognized that "[t]he institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis." Second, the New York Court noted that in current state law, 316 benefits accrue to traditional marriage. And these do not include the "symbolic and moral" significance of traditional marriage.
Across the Mason-Dixon Line, two other state supreme courts were handing down pro-marriage rulings on procedural grounds. In Perdue v. O'Kelley, The Georgia Supreme Court held that the 2004 addition to the State Constitution of a ban on same-sex marriages was approved according to procedures required by the state constitution. Over the state line, in Tennessee, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages now on the state ballot for voter action on November 7, 2006, could not be challenged by plaintiffs in ACLU et al. v. Darnell. The Court ruled that neither group plaintiffs (the ACLU and Tennessee Equality Project) nor individual plaintiffs had established their standing to sue in this case.
Judges and legislators in these recent situations have acted in accord with the U.S. Constitution, their respective state constitutions, and the Higher Law of God. It is vitally important that we Constitutionalists always remember that this Higher Law trumps all others, and it is America's obedience or disobedience to this Law by which we will ultimately be judged.