Paul Johnson guest col: Court’s marriage decision demeans federal form of government
The U.S. Supreme Court has once again taken another step toward destroying the U.S. Constitution and our federal system of government. With the narrow 5-4 decision announced in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court usurped the authority of 50 states and took it upon itself to re-define the institution of marriage. The five justice majority obviously doesn’t believe in having a federal form of government, in which states are free to control most areas of civic life. Since the Constitution makes no reference to marriage, then that’s an area of life that properly belongs to the states to regulate.
The Court has been on this path for quite a few years and this decision is just another indication a majority of the Supreme Court justices don’t believe the Constitution should be the controlling authority in determining how the federal government operates. Because of the blatant disregard for the language and guiding principles of the Constitution, this decision reinforces the current distrust and disrespect for the federal government. To change several thousand years of human cultural history related to marriage, by the vote of five justices, is not the rule of law. It’s rule by dictate.
The Court somehow found the Fourteenth Amendment had something to do with marriage. It doesn’t. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified by the states in 1868 for the sole purpose of ensuring former slaves were given all the freedoms and rights of other Americans. Congress knew some states would probably try to restrict the rights of newly freed slaves, so the Fourteenth Amendment was meant to protect and guarantee them their rights. But over the past 70 years, the Fourteenth Amendment has been stretched and distorted by the Supreme Court, in order to justify decisions that have no basis in the clear language of the Constitution.
Major changes to the laws of marriage should be enacted by the legislatures in each state under our representative form of government. By decreeing new law for the whole country, the Court abrogates the rule of law and, in effect, says to the country, “We know what is best for you.”
By legalizing same-sex marriage by fiat, instead of through the legislative process, the court invites disrespect and resistance from those who hold other beliefs. If a majority of citizens were in favor of changing centuries of tradition relating to marriage, states could easily pass laws allowing for same-sex marriage. The fact only 11 states have voted legislatively to recognize same-sex marriage shows most citizens don’t support it. Legislation passed by a majority vote is much more easily accepted by opponents because they recognize a majority of their fellow citizens favor a new law. But having a major cultural tradition turned upside down by decree from above, invites resentment and rebellion.
It’s clear the five justices voting in the majority have an agenda to radically change the United States and they refuse to let the Constitution stand in the way. They felt they would deal with same-sex marriage once and for all and then it would go away. This was the same attitude the majority took in Roe v. Wade, but 42 years later, the abortion debate continues. States still are attempting to set their own rules to reflect the values of their citizens.
By a majority of one, the Supreme Court invalidated the laws of states and unilaterally imposed their beliefs on the whole country. Regardless of your opinion on same sex marriage, this decision should be troubling. When a majority of Supreme Court justices believe they can make the Constitution say whatever they want it to, then no area of life is free from judicial fiat.
Paul Johnson and his wife are 16-year residents of Carson City and small business owners.