MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear cases about the constitutionality of same-sex marriages later this month, the Alabama attorney general filed a friend of the court brief Friday, April 3, joining 19 other states urging the high court to uphold state laws that ban same-sex marriage.
The amicus brief, written in partnership with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative non-profit legal group, offers comments on the combined case which will determine the legality of traditional marraige. It requests the Supreme Court to affirm a state's authority to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman as was determined by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
The Supreme Court has said it intends to address two questions:
1. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?
A press release from Alabama's Attorney General Luther Strange's office said the case "is about more than marriage."
"It is also about the proper role of the federal courts in scrutinizing state policy decisions," he said.
"The presumption is state laws are constitutional," Strange said. "If the traditional definition of marriage is not a rational basis for legislative action, it is hard to imagine what is."
Strange said he was taking the action because "an overwhelming majority of Alabama voters," about 81 percent, had approved a constitutional amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman.
"It is important that Alabamians' views be represented before the Supreme Court and I filed this brief to make sure their voices are heard," he said.
Alabama joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia in signing on to the brief for Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee in the Supreme Court case.
Two other states are engaged in appeals at the Circuit Court level in defending voter-approved marriage amendments: Nebraska has filed an appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Florida's appeal is on hold with the 11th Circuit Court until the present Supreme Court case is concluded.
Same-sex marriage is legal now in 37 states plus the nation's capital, largely because of judicial activism:
-- 26 have had voter-approved amendments overturned by courts.
-- 13 still only allow marriage between one man and one woman. But among these, 10 have had a judge overturn the ballot measures and appeals are in progress.
-- 8 state legislatures passed laws making same-sex marriages legal (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont).
-- Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved measures to legalize gay unions, as did the electorate in the District of Columbia.
Alabama's traditional definition of marriage also was voided but the state's highest court has intervened to stop gay marriages.
Not surprisingly, court partisanship has been evident in the multiple federal court rulings that overturned voter approved amendments to define marriage in traditional terms. The trend of dramatic judicial support for homosexual marriage coincides with changes President Obama has been able to effect in the makeup of the courts, in particular the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
The New York Times reported Sept. 13, 2014, that for the first time in a decade "judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents" and that Democratic appointees who hear full cases "now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals." Eight of those nine, now liberal courts, were reshaped by the president during his six years in office. Only the 9th Circuit in San Francisco was predominately liberal when he won election.
Four remain solidly conservative, including the 5th (New Orleans, Louisiana), 6th (Cincinnati, Ohio), 7th (Chicago, Illinois) and 8th (St. Louis, Missouri).