If there was any doubt that the Supreme Court of the United States continues to vastly overextend its powers in ways that are dismantling American democracy and liberty, this summer's decisions striking down a core component of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and remanding California's Proposition 8 should settle the question.
How great is this threat? Put it this way: No component of American liberty or democracy is inherently safe if, as it did earlier this summer, the highest court in our land is permitted to trump Constitutional principles and the political will of the American people with a progressive political and social agenda rooted in neither.
Consider first the broad political support that brought DOMA to law and then sustained it as law these past 17 years. Too seldom mentioned in the post-ruling analysis, DOMA was a modest, uncontroversial piece of legislation that merely codified multiple existing federal laws defining (for the purpose of federal spousal benefits) marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The legislation passed both Houses of Congress with broad, bipartisan support, was signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton and has been largely politically uncontested since. Importantly, DOMA solidified a broadly held view of the American people, held since our nation's founding and still today, that marriage is a critical societal institution that cannot be harmfully redefined to suit the agenda of special interest political causes.
Such also is the case with the Court's other ruling, which found that citizens of California lack legal standing to challenge the ruling of a San Francisco federal court that wrongly found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. In so ruling, the Supreme Court again trumped democratic rights and the political will of the people. In November 2008, in an Election Day referendum that drew over 13 million Californians to the polls, the voters of our nation's largest state properly defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
Like DOMA, that referendum also reflected the people's view that marriage should be subjected to reasonable definition and parameters, remaining as between a man and a woman. Also like DOMA, it too has now been tossed aside to satisfy the progressive agenda of a Court that increasingly discards the democratic will of the American people and does so as a necessary prerequisite to imposing its own ideologically driven agenda.
Further to the point that both rulings were rooted in progressive ideology, not any guiding philosophy of jurisprudence on marriage, the Court also showed itself utterly contradictory in the foundations of its rulings. Is marriage defined by the federal government or, consistent with federalist principles, at the state level? The Court demonstrated absolute incoherence on that important question, arguing in its DOMA ruling that marriage is to be governed by the states and, conversely, in its Proposition 8 ruling, that it is to be governed by the federal government.
The stakes in this current cause could not be much higher. When a portion of the Supreme Court can flippantly toss aside the political will of the people on issues that are rightfully empowered to the people to decide, as this Court now has done, we no longer reside in a nation guided by our people and laws. Rather, America becomes a nation where democracy is a mere visual effect used to spawn a perception of self-rule that no longer ultimately exists.
This is the bad news for liberty loving Americans. But the Supreme Court's rulings bring good news too. Contrary to the image depicted in mainstream media, the American people are awakening to the reality of its elitist, progressive courts – and it is a reality, as Justice Antonin Scalia properly argued in his dissenting view on DOMA, that is "jaw dropping". In striking down the will of elected Members of Congress and a President of the United States (with DOMA) and the people of California (with its Proposition 8 ruling), the Supreme Court has now served notice to liberty advocates that it is game on. That is a calling that the American people will surely answer.
Additionally and importantly, the rulings in no way settle much of anything as it relates to the future of traditional marriage. DOMA may be no longer, but we at the Faith and Freedom Coalition intend to work with its advocates and a growing grassroots movement of Americans who support its principles, to ensure its basic tenets are otherwise upheld. The rulings also will certainly further inspire the efforts of traditional marriage activists, who now vastly outnumber their opponents, to work to elect state and federal legislators who will defend the treasured and traditional definition of marriage while ensuring that the nation's courts no longer serve to trump the political will and wisdom of its citizens.