Supreme Court Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) And Prop 8 Decisions Seem Contradictory

The Supreme Court Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) decision came down today, but oddly enough it seems to contradict the Supreme Court’s Proposition 8 ruling.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Google is celebrating the SCOTUS rulings on the Defense Of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

Why do the Supreme Court’s Defense Of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 decisions seem to contradict each other? Proposition 8 was decided solely on technical legal grounds since state officials in California’s executive branch declined to defend the law passed by a majority vote. According to the Supreme Court, this meant the case was invalid because the proponents of Proposition 8 were not entitled to defend the law even though it was passed by California’s own citizens. Since the Supreme Court was technically not allowed to see the case, this meant that a prior trial court decision in favor of gay marriage was left standing.

The Supreme Court’s Defense Of Marriage Act case was very similar in this regard because the Department of Justice, which is under the Federal government’s executive branch, also refused to defend DOMA as passed by Congress. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) explained why House Republicans defended DOMA in the Supreme Court:

“Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President Clinton signed it into law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally.”

Thus, shouldn’t the Supreme Court have refused to decide on the Defense Of Marriage Act for the same reasons cited for Prop 8? Since the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided in favor of Ms. Windsor last year, the result likely would have been the same. But it seems odd that the Supreme Court issue rulings with contradictory logic on the same day.

These actions by our elected officials also seems to violate the line between a Republic and a Democracy. The United States is a Republic and elected officials are supposed to represent the will of the people. Since a majority of Californians voted for Proposition 8 and a majority of Americans supported DOMA then how could these elected officials be allowed to neglect their duty?

The reasons cited for striking down a portion of DOMA also seem very odd. Speaking for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote:

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.” In another portion, Kennedy said DOMA was “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

Here is the full text of the Fifth Amendment:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The Supreme Court case was not criminal. It was all about the IRS, taxes, and federal marriage benefits. You could consider the phrase “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property” to apply in some fashion, but that’s completely out of context. So could someone please explain to me in plain English how the Fifth Amendment even applies in this case?

The Supreme Court’s Fifth Amendment decision last week was also quite convoluted and seemingly contradictory in nature. That instance actually considered a criminal case, but the Supreme Court truled that simply hearing your Fifth Amendment rights is not enough. SCOTUS claims that as an American citizen you have to specifically invoke your rights verbally in order to have the right to remain silent unless the police read off your Miranda Rights.

Still, the case United States v. Windsor, only struck down DOMA in regards to the portion that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits. The vast majority of DOMA still stands, meaning states may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. So, except for the case of federal marriage benefits, gay marriage remains illegal in 38 states.

Did you find the Supreme Court’s decisions on the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8 confusing or contradictory?