Court-Stripping Bill on Marriage Undermines Bill of Rights


Contact: Nathan Richter or Peter Montgomery at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

‘Marriage Protection Act’ is Assault on Checks and Balances, Equal Protection

The “Marriage Protection Act” scheduled for a vote on Thursday in the House of Representatives would effectively bar an entire class of citizens from asking the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights. People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas strongly urged members of the House of Representatives to reject the bill.

“Thoughtful Americans across the political spectrum should oppose a scheme to give Congress unchecked power to restrict the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed under the Constitution.” said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. “The so-called Marriage Protection Act is an attack on the federal courts’ ability to protect individual rights from the power of the legislature. It is discriminatory and unconstitutional and should be rejected out of hand.”

The “Marriage Protection Act” – HR 3313 – would bar federal courts from hearing challenges to the “full faith and credit” provision of the 1996 federal “Defense of Marriage Act.”

In a letter to House members, Neas wrote that the dangerous precedent set by such a bill, if allowed to stand, would mean for all practical purposes that “Congress could become the sole arbiter of constitutionality on any subject within its powers – or indeed outside its powers since it could legislate away any challenge to Congressional interpretation of its own authority.”

“While the target of H.R. 3313 is the federal courts, it is the American people – who lose a critical avenue to redress governmental wrongs – who will feel the impact,” continues the PFAW letter. “Today it is the right of gay and lesbian Americans to equality under law that is threatened, but stripping courts of jurisdiction is a tactic that can be turned against any of our fundamental rights and freedoms.”

“Just last week the Senate rejected the push to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution,” said Neas. “This week the House should reject this plan to render the Constitution unenforceable.”

People For the American Way is part of the Coalition Against Discrimination in the Constitution, a coalition of more than 120 national organizations working to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment.