Hawaii Federal Judge Upholds Marriage; Judicial Honesty About Marriage
- By Alliance Defending Freedom
- Posted Aug 14, 2012
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By Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Counsel, Holly Carmichael
Shortly after a Hawaii District Court judge issued the opinion in Jackson v. Abercrombie, I spoke with a reporter about the decision. I explained that the court upheld Hawaii’s definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as well as Hawaii’s constitutional provision that grants the legislature the power to define marriage. The reporter asked me, “What surprised you most about the decision?” Well, the Jackson decision is an excellent one, spot-on in its reasoning and literally chock-full of authority. We expect decisions like Jackson every time that marriage is challenged in a courtroom, so it shouldn’t be at all surprising. That was my answer at the time. But the reporter’s question has resurfaced in my mind several times since, and I’ve figured out why.
There was—sadly—a surprising element in the Hawaii decision: Judge Alan Kay’s 117-page opinion did exactly what a court should do. Judicial honesty about marriage has become so unusual that it is now a bit startling when we see it. Jackson follows controlling precedent from the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit. Rather than inventing new rules, or ignoring established ones, the Jackson opinion applies the law. It’s not at all unexpected that when the law is applied, marriage must be upheld. But in the wake of so many recent court decisions that have reinvented or evaded the law to arrive at a result that compels a radical redefinition of marriage, I have to confess. There was an element of surprise—a very pleasant experience, to be sure—to read an entirely logical, intellectually honest judicial opinion on the question of whether a state may define marriage by reference to its most essential component—a husband and a wife.
That’s how badly the judicial process has been twisted by efforts to characterize same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional right. We’ve recently seen a number of court decisions that arrive at the badly flawed conclusion that there is a right to marry someone of the same sex. But every one of those decisions have had to contort the law and its standards to reach that conclusion. And with repetition, the legal contortions are being accepted—to the point where a just and accurate opinion like Jackson is somewhat surprising. In a nation designed to be one of laws, not men, this is very alarming.
The Jackson plaintiffs will likely appeal this excellent decision to the Ninth Circuit, where they will try to have it reversed. Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie has pledged his support to the plaintiffs on appeal. That’s right—despite being named a defendant in the Jackson case and despite his oath to uphold Hawaii’s laws and his duty to defend them, Governor Abercrombie will enthusiastically work with the plaintiffs to overturn Hawaii’s marriage law.
But there may be light at the end of this very twisted tunnel. The Supreme Court will have the opportunity to end the legal shenanigans to redefine marriage in the upcoming term. The highest court in our nation has the chance to overturn and correct the creative 9th Circuit decision overturning California’s democratically-enacted constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Perry v. Brown.
The Supreme Court has also been invited to bring an end to the judicial mischief that’s repeatedly occurred in the many cases challenging the validity of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Three requests for Supreme Court review await the Court (Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. HHS/Gill v. Office of Personnel Management; Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management; and Windsor v. United States) when it reconvenes this fall.
I will not be surprised when the Supreme Court grants review of at least one of these cases. And I will not be at all surprised when the Supreme Court’s review of laws defining marriage as a man and a woman looks an awful lot like the Jackson v. Abercrombie opinion. Until that day, the Alliance Defending Freedom will stand firm in our defense of marriage.
Author: Alliance Defending Freedom