Fair and Just Courts

In Marriage Arguments, Scalia Overlooks the People's Role in Adopting Equal Protection

Scalia says judicial interpretations of Equal Protection bypass the people, but it was the people who chose to constrain themselves with Equal Protection.
PFAW Foundation

Justice Ginsburg Tackles Idea That Marriage Definition Has Existed For Millennia

One of the words being bandied about at this morning's oral arguments in the marriage cases was "millennia." One of the anti-equality side's main talking points is that equality proponents are asking the Justices to "redefine marriage," as if marriage has been static in nature for time immemorial. Justice Kennedy raised this issue early in oral arguments. As reported in the Washington Post:

10:06 a.m.: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is believed to be the deciding vote in this case, quickly jumped in with a question about the long-standing view of marriage as between two members of the opposite sex. "The word that keeps coming back to me is ‘millennia,' " he said.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the United States for only about a decade, since Massachusetts legalized it in 2006, Kennedy said. "I don't even know how to count the decimals," he said. "This definition has been with us for millennia."

Perhaps no one is better qualified to tackle this aspect of the case than Justice Ginsburg. As live-blogged by SCOTUSBlog:

One seemingly striking moment came when Justice Ginsburg spoke of how it was recent changes to the institution of marriage that made it appropriate for gay and lesbian couples -- in particular, it becoming an egalitarian institution rather than one dominated by the male partners who determined where and how the couple would live.

Indeed, the idea of marriage as the voluntary union of two lawful equals is hardly one that goes back millennia, or even to our nation's founding. For much of American history, women who got married actually lost their civil identities as individuals, being seen in the eyes of the law only as the wives of their husbands, who had all the legal rights. In the 19th century, it was considered a major reform to allow a woman to keep her own property in her own name after she married, rather than having it automatically transfer to her husband. A more recent reform is that a wife is not automatically considered to have given consent to her husband for sexual intercourse.

Marriage as it is practiced in our country is hardly millennia old. Much of what defined marriage in U.S. history would today be struck down as violating the rights of women under the 14th Amendment. When a New York court in the 1980s struck down that state's rape exemption that allowed men to rape their wives, the judge opened his opinion with quotation from John Stuart Mill's 1869 essay The Subjection of Women: "Marriage is the only actual bondage known to our law. There remain no legal slaves, except the mistress of every house."

But the court that struck down the spousal rape exemption more than a century after that was written was not engaged in an illegitimate "redefinition" of marriage. It was simply enforcing the 14th Amendment, as the Supreme Court is being asked to do today.

This post originally appeared on the blog of People For the American Way.

Justice Ginsburg Tackles Idea that Marriage Definition Has Existed for Millennia

Marriage as it existed for much of our nation's history violates the 14th Amendment, as does today's exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution.
PFAW Foundation

Staver: Impeach Supreme Court Justices Who 'Go Off The Farm' On Marriage

In an interview with Iowa-based conservative talk radio host Steve Deace on Friday, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said that he supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage cases, but added that he also doesn’t think it’s a “state right” to rule on the issue.

“Same-sex marriage is not a state right, any more than it a right of the United States Supreme Court or the federal courts to do this,” he said. “It’s no more a states’ rights issue than is changing the natural created order of anything.”

“For example,” he continued, “slavery is not a states’ rights issue…No, the issue of slavery is something that transcends state borders. I don’t all the sudden become confused about male and female when I drive into California from a neighboring state of Texas. It’s the same in California as it is in Texas, as it is in New York, as it is in Iowa, everywhere around the world has been the same. It is not the right of the state, any more than it is the right of the federal courts or the Supreme Court to redefine the natural created order of marriage.”

Staver told Deace that “there’s a lot of remedies” Congress can pursue to “rein this out-of-control judiciary back to its intended purpose,” including dissolving lower federal courts that rule in ways lawmakers dislike on marriage and impeaching Supreme Court justices who “go off the farm” on the issue.

“There’s only one court that’s ever required by the United States Constitution,” Staver explained, “the Supreme Court of the United States. No other lower federal courts of appeals or district courts are required, they’re at the will of Congress. Congress created them, Congress can do away with them.”

“Congress, as this particular piece of legislation is proposing, can limit their jurisdiction,” he continued.
“Congress can also impeach justices of the United States Supreme Court that go off the farm. They should exercise the right of impeachment when these justices or judges become legislators, activists, ideologues rather than umpires calling the shots as the balls and strikes goes over the plate. When they do that, they need to exercise their authority to impeach.”

“When the people lose trust in the courts, the courts lose their authority,” he added. “Congress can simply resist these unjust laws coming from these courts and reign this out-of-control judiciary back in its intended position.”

Anti-Gay Activists Warn Supreme Court of 'Tyranny' & God's 'Wrath Upon America' Following Marriage Decision

In a press conference today in front of the Supreme Court, Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porter gathered a who’s who of radical anti-gay activists and “ex-gays” to deliver “restraining orders” to the Supreme Court demanding that the justices not hear arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

Far from a far-right pipe dream, Porter’s bill to block federal courts from ruling on marriage was introduced last week by Rep. Steve King in the House and Sen. Ted Cruz in the Senate. “We have appealed to Congress to restrain the judges, and the good news is Congress has heard our cry,” Porter said.

The activists, including Scott Lively, Peter LaBarbera and Bill Owens, also announced that they were filing a motion asking Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the case because they, in Lively’s words, “deliberately officiated at so-called homosexual wedding ceremonies.”

Ginsburg and Kagan, Lively charged, “have committed an unparalleled breach of judicial ethics by elevating the importance of their own favorite political cause of gay rights above the integrity of the court and of our nation.”

Porter distributed to attendees copies of her new anti-gay documentary “Light Wins,” which features a number of GOP politicians and conservative activists claiming that the institution of equal rights for LGBT people will lead to the “criminalization of Christianity,” a theme heard throughout the press conference.

Greg Quinlan, an “ex-gay” activist, echoed the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins , saying a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality “will bring open season on Torah Jews and biblical Christians, and it will definitely bring open season on those of us who left homosexuality.”

Steven Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas, a Roy Moore acolyte who has been advocating for a bill in his state barring the use of funds to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples if the state’s marriage ban is struck down, declared that gay marriage is “not a marriage, it’s a mirage, because it’s counterfeit, it’s a lie, it’s untrue.”

A decision in favor of marriage equality, he warned, “would force individuals to have to condone, accept, even celebrate sexual immorality among certain elements of the population and teach it to the children.”

“It would criminalize Christianity,” he added. “The pastors would be forced to have to marry those of the same-sex.”

Peter LaBarbera, the head of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality declared that the Supreme Court is “poised to nationalize a historical anomaly, so-called marriage based on a sexual perversion, as a constitutional right.”

“A nation cannot simultaneously honor God and codify sexual sin as a supposed civil right,” he said, adding that “apparently the ‘T’ in LGBT stands for ‘tyranny.’”

Bill Johnson, a former state official with the American Family Association who now runs the American Decency Association, warned that a decision favorable to marriage equality would invite God’s "wrath upon America:

Meanwhile, Wiley Drake, a pastor who has prayed for President Obama’s death, was filming the whole event, at one point turning around to tell reporters that America has a Christian “birth certificate.”

“Our nation has a birth certificate. The president doesn’t, but our nation does.”
 

Jim Garlow: Marriage Equality Ruling Would Make Supreme Court 'The Laughingstock Of Historians And The World'

At today’s March for Marriage, Pastor Jim Garlow offered a lengthy explanation for why he believes marriage equality is wrong, asking the audience to repeat several Hebrew words found in Genesis before rearranging the letters to make the word “fire,” which of course proves that if you allow marriage equality you are going to Hell.

“You mess with the definition of marriage, and you burn, you’re toast, you can’t win that one,” he said.

This explanation is so obvious, he said, that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality this year, it will soon become a “laughingstock” for having promoted the “ridiculous” idea of legal marriage for gay and lesbian people.

“Quoting from the Broadway musical, I would say this to the Supreme Court,” he said. “‘Your arms are too short to box with God.’ You can’t mess with Him. You can’t change the definition of marriage. If you try, they will laugh at you in 25 or 50 years. This Supreme Court, if they try to change that definition, they’ll be laughed at, they’ll be scoffed at. ‘How ridiculous was this notion?’ And this whole concept of so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ will be on the ash heap of history and the Supreme Court will be the laughingstock of historians and the world. They cannot change what God has established.”

March For Marriage: 'It Was Adam And Eve, And Not Adam And Steve!'

There was a special tone of urgency at today’s March for Marriage, held just days before the Supreme Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of bans on gays and lesbians marrying, which even many marriage equality opponents believe may lead to a sweeping decision in favor of marriage rights.

Father Johannes Jacobse, an Orthodox priest from Florida, set the tone at the National Organization for Marriage’s event when he warned that if marriage equality becomes law, “in the end, the state will be telling you how to live and you will lose your freedom and the family will be weakened and the society will crumble and might even be destroyed.”

“God created the family,” he added. “In the beginning, in the beginning, it was Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve!”


 

How Big Money In Politics Is Making It Harder For Criminal Defendants To Get A Fair Trial

When the Supreme Court struck down limits on outside spending in elections in the 2010 Citizens United case, critics pointed to a potentially huge public policy impact in issues ranging from environmental protection to tax policy to health care to voting rights.

But one impact of Citizens United has gone without as much public discussion as it deserves: It’s making it harder for criminal defendants to get a fair trial.

Last fall, the American Constitution Society released a report by two Emory University law professors illustrating that the big spending that Citizens United let loose in state judicial elections created a climate in which elected judges were more reluctant to side with defendants in criminal cases.

Joanna Shepherd and Michael S. Kang found that outside groups seeking to influence judicial elections — usually for reasons unrelated to criminal justice policy — often relied on “Willie Horton” style attack ads implying that targeted judges were “soft on crime.” The proliferation of outside spending and the attack ads that the spending bought, they found, correlated with a decrease in the frequency with which elected state appellate judges ruled in favor of defendants in criminal cases.

“Unlimited independent spending is associated with, on average, a seven percent decrease in justices’ voting in favor of criminal defendants,” they wrote. “That is, the results predict that, after Citizens United, justices would vote differently and against criminal defendants in 7 out of 100 cases.”

Shepherd discussed her findings yesterday at a panel convened by ACS, along with retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Norman Reimer and Tanya Clay House of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Nelson, who was on the Montana Supreme Court when it famously ruled that Citizens United didn't apply to that state's unique history of corruption (Nelson dissented, saying the high court’s ruling applied to Montana, but took the opportunity to demolish the decision while he was at it), said he had lived first-hand the impact of big money in judicial races.

“The fact of the matter is that is when justices running for political office are attacked during their campaigns, it forces them to look over their shoulder constantly,” he said. “And I can tell you that from personal experience. You have to fight to make yourself vote the way the law requires you to vote. And most judges do. But it’s in these marginal cases where there’s a close call and perhaps the case should go to a defendant, it doesn’t go to the defendant.”

The groups spending money on judicial attack ads, he said, “really don’t give a damn about defendants’ rights. They really don’t care. What they want to do is to get somebody onto a court who marches in lockstep with their philosophy, or get somebody off the court that does not march in lockstep with their philosophy.”

Reimer sounded a similar note: “The fight is really about commercial interests. It’s usually about the plaintiffs’ bar versus the corporate interests, the unions, the conservatives. It’s about nothing to do with criminal justice. But because of the fear factor, that’s where you go after somebody.”

“I think we all need to understand and appreciate what’s really at risk here,” Nelson said. “And what’s really at risk is the fair, independent and impartial judicial system that most citizens in this country, and I think most lawyers in this country, simply take for granted. And if the dark money flows from Super PACS and the Koch brothers and RSLC and groups like them get control of the judiciary … That’s what this is all about: getting control of the third branch of government. If they get control of that third branch by spending their way to the top, then we’re going to lose that fair, impartial and independent judiciary that we’ve all come to expect and rely upon. Certainly criminal defendants are going to suffer immeasurably.”

Clay House pointed out that there is already “a different perception of the criminal justice system and judiciary among communities of color.” Pew found in 2013 that 68 percent of black Americans said they were “treated less fairly than whites” in the courts, while the majority of whites were oblivious to racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Unchecked spending in judicial elections, the evidence shows, may be making that perception, and the reality, even worse.

Cross-posted from the blog of People For the American Way.

How Big Money In Politics Is Making It Harder For Criminal Defendants To Get A Fair Trial

When the Supreme Court struck down limits on outside spending in elections in the 2010 Citizens United case, critics pointed to a potentially huge public policy impact in issues ranging from environmental protection to tax policy to health care to voting rights.

But one impact of Citizens United has gone without as much public discussion as it deserves: It’s making it harder for criminal defendants to get a fair trial.

Last fall, the American Constitution Society released a report by two Emory University law professors illustrating that the big spending that Citizens United let loose in state judicial elections created a climate in which elected judges were more reluctant to side with defendants in criminal cases.

Joanna Shepherd and Michael S. Kang found that outside groups seeking to influence judicial elections — usually for reasons unrelated to criminal justice policy — often relied on “Willie Horton” style attack ads implying that targeted judges were “soft on crime.” The proliferation of outside spending and the attack ads that the spending bought, they found, correlated with a decrease in the frequency with which elected state appellate judges ruled in favor of defendants in criminal cases.

“Unlimited independent spending is associated with, on average, a seven percent decrease in justices’ voting in favor of criminal defendants,” they wrote. “That is, the results predict that, after Citizens United, justices would vote differently and against criminal defendants in 7 out of 100 cases.”

Shepherd discussed her findings yesterday at a panel convened by ACS, along with retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Norman Reimer and Tanya Clay House of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Nelson, who was on the Montana Supreme Court when it famously ruled that Citizens United didn't apply to that state's unique history of corruption (Nelson dissented, saying the high court’s ruling applied to Montana, but took the opportunity to demolish the decision while he was at it), said he had lived first-hand the impact of big money in judicial races.

“The fact of the matter is that is when justices running for political office are attacked during their campaigns, it forces them to look over their shoulder constantly,” he said. “And I can tell you that from personal experience. You have to fight to make yourself vote the way the law requires you to vote. And most judges do. But it’s in these marginal cases where there’s a close call and perhaps the case should go to a defendant, it doesn’t go to the defendant.”

The groups spending money on judicial attack ads, he said, “really don’t give a damn about defendants’ rights. They really don’t care. What they want to do is to get somebody onto a court who marches in lockstep with their philosophy, or get somebody off the court that does not march in lockstep with their philosophy.”

Reimer sounded a similar note: “The fight is really about commercial interests. It’s usually about the plaintiffs’ bar versus the corporate interests, the unions, the conservatives. It’s about nothing to do with criminal justice. But because of the fear factor, that’s where you go after somebody.”

“I think we all need to understand and appreciate what’s really at risk here,” Nelson said. “And what’s really at risk is the fair, independent and impartial judicial system that most citizens in this country, and I think most lawyers in this country, simply take for granted. And if the dark money flows from Super PACS and the Koch brothers and RSLC and groups like them get control of the judiciary … That’s what this is all about: getting control of the third branch of government. If they get control of that third branch by spending their way to the top, then we’re going to lose that fair, impartial and independent judiciary that we’ve all come to expect and rely upon. Certainly criminal defendants are going to suffer immeasurably.”

Clay House pointed out that there is already “a different perception of the criminal justice system and judiciary among communities of color.” Pew found in 2013 that 68 percent of black Americans said they were “treated less fairly than whites” in the courts, while the majority of whites were oblivious to racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Unchecked spending in judicial elections, the evidence shows, may be making that perception, and the reality, even worse.

PFAW

Rep. Steve King Introduces Court-Stripping Bill Written By Radical Anti-Gay Activists

Yesterday, Rep. Steve King announced the introduction of his "Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015," which would strip federal courts of the ability to hear any case involving the issue of marriage equality:

A Republican lawmaker is trying to keep federal courts from hearing same-sex marriage cases.

Less than a week before the Supreme Court plans to hear arguments in potentially one of the nation’s most influential cases on gay marriage, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced the Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015 to preserve state bans.

“For too long, federal courts have overstepped their constitutionally limited duty to interpret the Constitution.” King said in a news release. “Rather, federal courts have perverted the Constitution to make law and create constitutional rights to things such as privacy, birth control, and abortion. These Unenumerated, so-called constitutionally-protected rights were not envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”

King’s bill strips way Article III of the Constitution, which gives federal courts the jurisdiction to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, any type of marriage. The bill also prohibits federal funds from being used for any litigation in, or enforcement of any order or judgment by, any federal court.

King said his bill would stop the courts from “destroying traditional marriage.”

What is going unreported is fact that this bill is the result of a campaign backed by some of the most radical anti-gay activists operating today, including Peter LaBarbera, BarbWire, Vision America, Dr. Steve Hotze, and others.

The idea itself was the brainchild of Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter, a longtime anti-gay activist who, just yesterday, warned that gay marriage was responsible for Noah's flood.

Porter was also the driving force behind the recent anti-gay documentary "Light Wins," which featured a handful of GOP elected officials and presidential candidates along with dozens of hardline anti-gay activists warning that gay activists seek to criminalize Christianity:

Not too long ago, we produced an overview of just some of the insane things that Porter has said and done in recent years:

  • Claimed that pastors who won’t perform same-sex marriages will be “carried off into jail” in states with marriage equality laws.
  • Blamed gay rights for Noah’s Flood in a column entitled: “How Same-Sex Marriage Points To End Of The World.”
  • Claimed Jason Collins’ decision to come out of the closet will endanger freedom. 
  • Warned that President Obama will use the Swine flu to “round up American citizens” and throw them in “FEMA concentration camps.”
  • Wondered if former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is the Antichrist.

Clinton Recognizes the Key Role of Supreme Court Nominations in Protecting Our Democracy

The Clinton campaign talks about how her Supreme Court nominees would affect the right to vote and money in politics.
PFAW

Roy Moore Compares Anti-Gay Fight To Resisting Slavery & Segregation

Last week, the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), a small group associated with the National Organization for Marriage, presented Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore with its first “Letter from the Birmingham Jail Courage Award,” comparing Moore’s defiance of federal courts on marriage equality to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil disobedience during the civil rights movement.

Moore accepted the award by comparing federal court decisions in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Supreme Court decisions in Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott. Reading a passage from the dissent in Plessy, Moore said it “seemed to ring very true in the issue before this country today about same-sex marriage and taking away the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman.”

The blog Left in Alabama captured the video:

After the presentation of the award, a reporter in the audience repeatedly asked Moore and CAAP President William Owens how they thought legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples would undermine marriage for straight people.

“It takes away the very definition ordained of God,” Moore responded. “A different definition destroys the definition of marriage. It’s not about the right to marry. There is a right to marry in our Constitution and the constitutions of the majority of the states, but it’s between a man and a woman.”

Owens took a different tack: “First of all, it’s not natural law and it’s immoral. It’s not natural for man to be married to a man. That is not natural. And that’s what this award is about. Dr. King emphasized it must line up with natural law. And if you believe that so much that a man should marry a man or a woman should marry a woman, go try it with electricity.”

Thanks, Mitch: Confirmed Judges to Skyrocket From One to Two

McConnell schedules a vote on one - and only one - judicial nominee.
PFAW

More of the Same, As Grassley Delays More Judicial Nominees

Grassley needlessly delays a committee vote on judicial nominees, just as Republicans have done for almost every one of Obama's judicial nominees.
PFAW

Conservative Columnist Warns God Will Destroy America If Supreme Court Rules For Marriage Equality

In a column for Matt Barber’s outlet BarbWire today, Michael Bresciani expounds on an amicus brief submitted by a number of Religious Right groups warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality could bring God’s judgment down on America. Bresiciani approvingly cites the amicus brief, agreeing that the Bible “clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation.”

Should LGBT rights activist succeed with their “demonic plan” at the Supreme Court, he warns, “there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked.”

Bresciani concludes by assuring readers that he does not hate gay people because “the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.”

The Bible clearly warns that the practice and promulgation of homosexuality and other perversions will draw God’s disfavor and in time his severe judgment on this and any nation. Those who take their bibles seriously cannot wait until others take them seriously – it will be too late by then.

There is little left for the LGBT to disrupt in America and the gay agenda’s public relations activists have clobbered the nation through the media, the state legislatures and it is now looming at the door of the Supreme Court to bring marriage in line with its demonic plan.

Should they succeed there will be absolutely nothing left to block an impending and imminent judgment against the United States from a very patient God who after all, will not be mocked

Having spent the last ten years intensely focusing on America’s waltz into the deepest levels of moral depravity and reprobation, I have often wondered why God drives us to warn a people who turn a deaf ear to its best voices for good, like those listed above. It seems that the voices are called into play only so in the end no one will call for the excuse that they were not warned. It seems that they will be granted what they want while ignoring the approach to losing all that they already have. Such futility is not new to nations throughout history, but now it’s coming to a neighborhood near you.

America has ignored every warning and message of those sent to her and is about to slam headlong into what I describe as the “40 Year Factor.”

I can’t say what that means in every detail, but I can say what I have seen and heard and that starts with an economic collapse that will parallel and go beyond the dust bowl days and the stock market crash of 1929. It will be a time of “extreme poverty and scarcity” such as never seen in our history.

The mighty push against all things Biblical, constitutional, rational, moral and decent is about to cross a line marked “no return allowed.”

The use of the word “homophobia’ is subterfuge being used as the last day’s PC war cry for anyone who does not want to face the serious nature and consequences of their own worst behaviors.

Not wanting to bake cakes for gays is nothing when considering that Christians are called upon to refrain from even mentioning what gays do in secret – why would they consent to promote or celebrate such behaviors. To wit:

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Eph 5: 11-12)

Regardless of which way these legal battles turn out one thing is clear the only thing real Christians hate about the gays is the fact that more creatures created in the image of God will be cast into an eternal hell.

Concern and sadness about the loss of their lives and futures is something that compassionate believers all share because it is not the will of God that anyone should perish. If it is not God’s will then it is not our will.

Where is Pat Toomey on Phil Restrepo's Nomination?

Five months into Pennsylvanian Phil Restrepo's nomination, Chuck Grassley has not scheduled a hearing. What is Pat Toomey doing to help?
PFAW

Mitch McConnell: Doing the Least He Can Possibly Do

Lest anyone think that Mitch McConnell hasn’t been paying attention to the judicial vacancy crisis or the Americans who pay the price when their cases are delayed or relocated, today everything changed: today Senator McConnell allowed a vote on … one judicial nominee!
PFAW

The GOP Finally Allows a Judicial Confirmation Vote

Later today, the Senate is scheduled to vote to confirm Alfred Bennett to the Southern District of Texas. But if McConnell is expecting congratulations, he should expect to wait a long time … just as he forces judicial nominees to wait for a confirmation vote.
PFAW

The 5 Worst Arguments Against Marriage Equality At The Supreme Court

In the weeks leading up to oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of marriage equality cases being heard at the Supreme Court this month, groups on both sides of the issue have been flooding the Court with amicus briefs.

These have inevitably included some very bad arguments from lawyers arguing on behalf of anti-LGBT groups. Here are five of the worst:

5. Gays Need ‘Tough Love,’ Like Smokers Or Drug Abusers

Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions (which identifies itself as a group “backed by private citizens and organizations who support the national policy aims of Mike Huckabee”) and anti-gay “statistician” Paul Cameron’s Family Research Institute tell the Justices that “[h]omosexuality and same-sex marriage are tied to early death” and thus gay people, much like drug abusers, need “tough love” instead of marriage rights.

As with smoking or drug abuse, it would be neither compassionate nor kind to normalize and encourage a known and significant public health risk such as homosexuality. Heightened early mortality risk suggests that homosexual practice (whether in casual or long-term unions) is self-injurious and therefore would put undue financial, emotional, and health burdens on survivors, especially children, as well as society, pursuant to any normalization of same-sex marriage by decree of this Court.

Just as in the cases of drug abusers or suicidal individuals, it would not be compassionate nor kind of this Court to attempt to further normalize and encourage known and significant public health risks represented by LGBT lifestyles and unions. Thus, the expansion of LGBT activity by decree of this Court is likely to proliferate undue financial, emotional, and health burdens upon survivors, especially children, and upon wider society as well. Far from “hateful,” the amici curiae herein hold that deference to the States in the regulation of lawful marriage, as well as federalist restraint and humility by this Court, would represent an act of love. “Tough love,” perhaps, but love nonetheless.

4. Marriage Equality Will Lead To Civil War

While the Texas chapter of Eagle Forum, in a brief written by Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andrew, never exactly says in its Supreme Court brief that a broad ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to civil war, it does draw an awful lot of parallels between the effects of Obergefell and those of the infamous pre-Civil War Dred Scott case.

The Texas Eagle Forum brief warns of “a badly fractious effect” if the Court declares that “the Bible is wrong about marriage,” drawing out “regional differences” similar to the regional divide over slavery before the Civil War. The group warns that, like Dred Scott, “any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.”

In 1857, as now, there were sharp regional differences over a fundamental social issue. But rather than allow Congress to sort the disputes out, the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and attempted to dictate one solution nationwide about slavery. That poured fuel on the fire, as history teaches. Likewise, any ruling by the Court here that attempts to establish homosexual marriage for every region of our country, thereby declaring that the local voters are wrong, their political leaders are wrong, and the Bible is wrong about marriage, will have a badly fractious effect.

The disunity will greatly worsen if the Court rules that Texas and other southern states must begin performing homosexual marriage. Far from unifying the Nation, as some argue, such a Court ruling would have a divisive effect similar to that of the Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott Court felt that by imposing its view of slavery on the entire Nation, the Court was resolving the conflict. In fact, of course, the decision made the conflict far worse. Likewise, any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.

Texas Eagle Forum specifically argues that the supposedly unbiblical nature of same-sex marriage would “be disastrous for the unity of our Nation” because the Bible is “the strongest link that holds our society together.”

The Bible is perhaps the most unifying force of our Nation.

A Supreme Court ruling that endorses homosexual marriage would directly conflict with clear teachings in both the Old and New Testaments. See, e.g., Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”) and Mark 10:6-8 (“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”) (ESV). In essence, the Court would be rejecting the Bible as false, and by implication perhaps even disparaging the Bible as hate speech. Whether the large percentage of Americans who respect the Bible would be persuaded by such a ruling remains to be seen. But if they are persuaded, then the results would be disastrous for the unity of our Nation, because it would weaken the strongest link that holds our society together.

3. Marriage Equality Is Bad For Gay People’s Kids Because Right Wing Watch Criticized Robert Oscar Lopez

There was a big splash in the right-wing media when four adults who were raised for at least part of their lives by same-sex couples, most prominently activist Robert Oscar Lopez, submitted an amicus brief against marriage equality.

Lopez cites one flawed study about same-sex parenting and uses it as a jumping-off point for discussing what he speculates is a trend toward things getting “harder, not easier” for children raised by same-sex couples as “gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon."

It has gotten harder, not easier, for COGs [Children of Gays], to the extent that gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon. The younger generation of COGs has lived with an enormous amount of surveillance and speech policing by people interested in ensuring that they say nothing to undermine the social prestige of their gay guardians. The younger generation of COGs seems to feel more uprooted from the missing half of their ancestry and more fearful of defying the authority of gay stepparent figures whom they still tend to view as stepparents even if they are fond of them.

COGs are now treated with less dignity, more suspicion, fewer protections and heightened discrimination/harassment/retaliation than they saw before same-sex marriage achieved a level of national success. All of this is emanating from within the gay community, enabled by complacent groups such as COLAGE and emboldened by the gay-marriage equality movement. Put simply, the situation for COGs has worsened as their numbers have multiplied.

Lopez’s main piece of evidence for the “heightened discrimination/harrassment/retaliation” being directed at the children of gay parents since those parents began to gain marriage rights seems to be his own experience being criticized by blogs, including Right Wing Watch, which he details at great length in a separate section of the brief.

2. It’s Okay To Discriminate Against Women, So Why Not Gays?

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate flagged a brief submitted by the state of South Carolina which illustrates at length the concern that the drafters of the 14th Amendment had about it granting rights to women. Since the state at the time sought to discriminate against women, the brief argues, then it is absurd to apply the amendment’s protections to gay and lesbian people who want to get married.

Here’s a representative paragraph:

Nor did the framers and their contemporaries conceive that the definition of marriage consisted of anything other than the union between man and woman. Indeed, the framers insisted upon leaving untouched those state laws depriving women of basic rights upon marriage to a man. Surely then, those state laws exclusively defining marriage as between a man and woman were hands off under the Amendment’s original meaning.

Representatives from the South Carolina solicitor general’s and attorney general’s offices followed up with Stern to clarify that “that their state does not wish to implement the sexist laws outlined in its brief—though it could if it wanted to.”

1. Marriage Equality Will Cause God To Destroy America

Really any constitutional argument you can come up with becomes irrelevant if we are threatened with God’s judgement on America. A coalition of right-wing groups (two of which have close ties with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore), pulled out that trump card in a brief in which they warn the Justices that should they “require the States and the People to ‘ritualize’ sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation.”

The groups, including Public Advocate of the United States and the Institute on the Constitution (run by longtime Moore funder and Maryland GOP official Michael Peroutka) and assisted by former Moore collaborator Herb Titus, assure the Justices that the warnings of Leviticus are still very much in effect:

Should the Court require the States and the People to “ritualize” sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation. Holy Scripture attests that homosexual behavior and other sexual perversions violate the law of the land, and when the land is “defiled,” the people have been cast out of their homes. See Leviticus 18:22, 24-30. Although some would assert that these rules apply only to the theocracy of ancient Israel, the Apostle Peter rejects that view: “For if God ... turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:4-6. The continuing application of this Levitical prohibition is confirmed by the Book of Jude: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering 1 Kings 14:24. 41 the vengeance of eternal fire.”

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