Supreme Court Cases on Marriage Expansion set for October

The Supreme Court of the United States could potentially hear several cases on expanding marriage this fall by eliminating one of the requirements for marriage entry.  These cases could quickly and easily have ramifications for your state law on marriage.

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a Utah lawsuit (Brown v. Herbert) that claims that polygamy is a guaranteed privacy right under the U.S. Constitution. The most recent court order did not address the merits of the constitutional arguments involved in the claim, but only the technical issue of standing, which boils down to whether the challenger has really been injured, in a constitutional sense, sufficient to invoke the authority of the courts to get involved in the dispute.  This polygamy case will now proceed to a trial or some other kind of decision on the merits of the case, but against the backdrop of several marriage-related cases that have already been appealed to (but not yet been accepted by) the Supreme Court. The upcoming term, starting on the first Monday in October, has the potential to be a marriage blockbuster.

The High Court is deciding now whether to accept for full hearing and review any of the following cases:
Hollingsworth v. Perry  (the California Marriage Amendment, also known as Prop 8);
- Federal Defense of Marriage Act appeals from the 1st, 2nd and 9th Circuits;
- Arizona state employee domestic partner benefit case entitled Brewer v. Diaz. Read the entire piece from CitizenLink at http://www.citizenlink.com/2012/08/21/polygamy-waiting-in-the-wings-while-supreme-court-addresses-the-definition-of-marriage/.

Some pundits strongly suggest that the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas could control the outcomes of any marriage cases.  A handful of court decisions by lower federal courts that have sought to expand marriage have done so on an argument for same-sex marriage using Lawrence rationale for justification. Lawrence  threw out a Texas criminal sodomy statute as an unconstitutional violation of the right of privacy, the same "right" that was also used in 1973 in Roe v. Wade to constitutionalize abortion. That same rationale could be used to expand marriage to include more than one partner, to eliminate age requirements, or to eliminate incest prohibitions.

Each case the High Court takes is always significant, but the marriage cases that could potentially come before the Supreme Court  of the United States this fall has the potential to alter the marriage policy of every state, particularly if the federal DOMA is overturned, as without DOMA the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that every state must give credence to the acts, records and rules of every other state.  Furthermore, a federal ruling on marriage definition and expansion would, by supremacy, become the law of the entire nation, regardless of state domestic relations law.

Family restoration relies on a firm marriage foundation for state family law, and now, on federal intervention into state marriage law that protects marriage and those who enter into it, or leaves the matter to the individual states.

1 comment:

  1. The Court has recently decided to take up cases on DOMA and Prop 8 from Cal. I believe they will continue the reasoning of Lawrence to expand the definition of marriage. Such a ruling would quite significantly change the States roles in defining what marriage is and is not.