CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION TO ELIMINATE
FEDERAL COURT JURISDICTION OVER MARRIAGE
By Dr. Ron Paul
Marriage is first and foremost a religious matter, not a government matter. Government is not moral and cannot make us moral. Law should reflect moral standards, of course, but morality comes from religion, from philosophy, from societal standards, from families, and from responsible individuals. We make a mistake when we look to government for moral leadership.
Marriage and divorce laws have always been crafted by each of the states of the American federal union. In an ideal world, American state governments enforce marriage contracts and settle divorces, but otherwise stay out of marriage. The U.S. national government, granted only limited, enumerated powers by the United States Constitution, has no role whatsoever in making and enforcing marriage and divorse laws.
However, many Americans understandably fear that, if gay marriage is legalized in one state, all other states will be forced to accept such marriages. They argue that the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Article IV, Section 1) of the U.S. Constitution  essentially nationalizes the issue; hence a federal constitutional amendment is necessary.
But a federal law, the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress in 1996, explicitly authorizes states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has interpreted the Full Faith and Credit Clause to allow Congress to limit the effect of state laws on other states. In fact, federal courts almost universally apply the clause only to state court judgments, not statutes. So a federal constitutional amendment is not necessary to address the issue of gay marriage, and will only drive yet another nail into the coffin of American federalism -- constititutional division and distribution of governmental powers between the national government and the states, with a substantial degree of political autonomy, or home rule, constitutionally reserved to the states and constitutionally guaranteed and protected. If we turn regulation of even domestic family relations over to the national government, presumably anything can be nationalized and the U.S.A. will cease to be a federal union of semi-autonomous states and become a unitary state, i.e., a highly centralized governmental system.
The choices are not limited to either banning gay marriage at the national level, or giving up and accepting it as inevitable. A far better approach, rarely discussed, is for Congress to exercise its existing constitutional power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts. Congress could statutorily remove whole issues like gay marriage from the jurisdiction U.S. courts, striking a blow against judicial tyranny and restoring some degree of states’ rights, or state autonomy. We seem to have forgotten that the U.S Supreme Court is supreme only over lower federal courts; it is not supreme over the other branches of government. Under the U.S. Constitution and our federal system of government, the judicial branch of the national government is co-equal to Congress and the national executive Too often, however, the federal judiciary, especiallty the U.S. Supreme Court, serves as an unelected, unaccountable legislature.
It is great comedy to hear the secular, pro-gay political Left, so hostile to states’ rights in virtually every instance, suddenly discover the tyranny of centralized government. The newly minted protectors of state autonomy and local rule find themselves demanding: “Why should Washington dictate marriage standards for Massachusetts and California? Let the people of those states decide for themselves.” This is precisely the argument Conservatives and Libertarians have been making for decades! Why should Washington dictate education, abortion, environment, and labor rules to the states? The American people hold widely diverse views on virtually all political matters, and the Founders expected the various state governments to most accurately reflect those views. This is the significance of the Tenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution  -- the amendment which the political Left has abused for decades.
Social problems cannot be solved by constitutional amendments or government edicts. Nationalizing marriage laws will only grant more power over our lives to the national government, even if for supposedly Conservative ends. Throughout the twentieth century, the relentless nationalization of state law served the interests of the political and cultural Left, and we should not kid ourselves that the same practice now can save freedom and morality. True Conservatives and Libertarians should understand that the solution to our moral and cultural decline does not lie in a strong centralized government Political centralization will not result in the restoration or reinvigoration of traditional American values and institutions.
Marriage, Family, & Society
Morality, Decency, & Traditional American Family Values
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, elected from and representing the Fourteenth
Congressional District of Texas. Congressman Paul is considered to be one of America's leading spokesmen for constitutional
government, the rule of law, liberty under law, the private enterprise system,, free market economics, sound monetary policy, and
fiscal restraint on the part of the U.S. national government.
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