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Judicial Watch • Judicial Watch Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court in Support of Utah Amendment 3 Defining Marriage as Between a Man and Woman

Judicial Watch Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court in Support of Utah Amendment 3 Defining Marriage as Between a Man and Woman

Judicial Watch Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court in Support of Utah Amendment 3 Defining Marriage as Between a Man and Woman

OCTOBER 02, 2014

Amicus says lower court ruling “limits the right of the people to self-governance and harms American democracy”

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that on September 4, 2014, it filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of Utah’s constitutional Amendment 3, defining marriage as consisting “only of the legal union between a man and a woman.”

Amendment 3 passed by an overwhelming 65.8% to 33.2% on November 2, 2004, garnering 593,297 out of some 900,000 votes cast. On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled in Kitchen v Herbert that under the 14th Amendment, access to marriage cannot be denied to gay and lesbian couples. The Tenth Circuit stayed of its ruling pending an appeal by the state of Utah to the U.S. Supreme Court. On August 5, 2014, Utah appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which is now considering whether to accept the state’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari.

In its amicus brief, Judicial Watch argues that “the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit raises important issues of constitutional law which should be heard by this Court,” adding:

In particular, this amicus is concerned that the Tenth Circuit’s ruling imposes unconstitutional limits on the right of the people to self-governance and harms American democracy.  Among the harms are: a dangerous distortion of constitutional jurisprudence; an unlawful expansion of the powers of the federal judiciary; and an anti-democratic limitation on the people’s right to democratic self-governance through popular initiative and referendum.

Specifically, Judicial Watch offered the following “Reasons for Granting the Petition” filed by the State of Utah:

  • The Tenth Circuit Unlawfully Redefines Utah Amendment 3 In Order To Apply Strict Scrutiny

The Tenth Circuit justified its decision by imposing its own policy preference – the “adult happiness and dignity” model of marriage – on Utah’s citizens.  By contrast, Utah’s citizens voted in favor of the “responsible procreation” model of marriage.  They chose to define marriage as an institution that encourages adults who conceive or intend to conceive children together to raise their children together and to remain committed to each other and their children … It is eminently rational to limit such a policy choice to the class of people most in need of encouragement:  male–female couples.

  • Rational Basis Review Applies, and Utah Amendment 3 Satisfies It

There is a marked difference between encouragement and recognition, and this difference highlights the rational basis behind Utah citizens’ preferred definition of marriage.  The “responsible procreation” model is at least rational, and the choice must, therefore, be left to the people of Utah …  Limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples promotes the governmental purpose of encouraging the two natural parents of children whose conception was unplanned to enter into a stable relationship that would be best for those children’s upbringing.  The inclusion of same-sex relationships would not promote such a purpose.

  • Democratic Decision-Making Must Be  Protected From Judicial Overreach

Finally, the Court should accept review to ensure that the people’s right to make laws and engage in direct democracy is protected from those who would seek to reserve lawmaking to the judiciary … Finding a new, fundamental right to same-sex marriage conflicts with this longstanding and undeniably important, fundamental right – the people’s right to self-governance … If the Tenth Circuit’s ruling is not reversed by this Court, the right of citizens to debate and define their democracy will be greatly diminished.

The Utah case is not the first in which Judicial Watch has filed an amicus in support of a popular referendum to defend traditional marriage. In January 2013, Judicial Watch joined with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in filing an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in support of California’s Proposition 8, establishing that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” In 2008, 52% of voters in California voted for Proposition 8, but in February 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional by a vote of 2-1, in a decision the amicus brief said “imputes the worst possible motives to voters.”  The Supreme Court eventually overturned the Ninth Circuit on other grounds, leaving the constitutional issue to be decided at a later time.

“The institution of marriage continues to be under relentless attack by those who attempt to impose the homosexual agenda by relying upon judicial activism to thwart the will of the people,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The citizens of Utah spoke loudly and clearly on Election Day 2004. They chose a rational model for their state’s marriage law. And it should not fall prey to those who put sexual preference above the people’s right to self-governance.”