Saturday, February 14, 2004

Federal Marriage Amendment: I am a conservative--on social, fiscal, and national defense issues--and like most conservatives, I am not a big fan of the Federal Marriage Amendment. If you're a liberal, that "most" probably surprises you, but I believe it to be true. The Constitution is the highest law of the land, and its purpose as such is to create the guidelines by which the many and diverse other laws are enacted. Defining marriage within the Constitution stretches it beyond its purpose in the same way that the Eighteenth Amendment (beginning Prohibition) was outside the proper scope of the Constitution. On the other hand, I believe, like Donald Sensing, that the courts have long been overreaching their authority. They are certainly doing this on the matter of gay marriage. I am not in favor of gay marriage in general (to paraphrase Mark Steyn, changing over 5000 years of tradition based on 50 years of social progress strikes me as a tad shortsighted), but it wouldn't perturb me quite so much if a state legislature, elected by the people with full knowledge of their intentions, were to decide to enact gay marriage within its own state. Having it rammed down the throat of a unwilling populace by an unelected court is another matter entirely. If it takes a Constitutional amendment to prevent that, so be it.

However, I would prefer it if the amendment were not quite so specific to marriage, but addressed the problem which allowed the courts to make these decisions for us in the first place. The American system of checks and balances seems to be sorely lacking when it comes to balancing the court. Thus, I would prefer it if the amendment were to attempt to address this issue. I think it is right to worry about compromising the court's independence, about weakening the power of what is supposed to be the last defense of our freedoms. Unfortunately, the court seems less interested in our freedoms these days (see Campaign Finance Reform), so maybe it won't hurt. I'm not an expert on constitutional law, so I couldn't come up with the proper wording, but I can think of some requirements:

1. Congress would need to be able to overrule the precedent which the court sets, but not the actual ruling itself.
2. This would require at the least a supermajority in both houses of Congress to pass.

New post: I have a new post on this subject here.

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