30 May 2006

Gay Marriage and New York's Constitution

There's an interesting legal battle over gay marriage in the Empire State. Several gay couples are suing for the right to marriage licenses, claiming violation of the state constitution's due process and equal rights clauses. According to the New York Sun, some are dead set against the court's right to weigh the evidence in this case:
The chairman of the state's Conservative Party, Michael Long, said a decision in favor of gay marriage would amount to nothing more than activism on the bench. The party filed a friend-of-the-court brief on the defense side several weeks ago.
Long is essentially denying the judicial branch's right to interpret the state's highest law. Now, I'm no legal scholar, but if a state law could possibly violate the state's constitution, isn't it the judicial branch's responsibility to determine whether it does (and take appropriate action if it does)?

This seems like another case of people who claim to support the rule of law being hypocritical and covering their tails with a strict constructionism that conveniently overlooks important legal principles. One of these principles is that since the constitution is a higher rule than individual pieces of legislation, it should be able to automatically negate any law that attempts to controvert it.

And that's the problem with so many calls against "judicial activism" -- its opponents refuse to acknowledge that interpretation of laws -- and constitutions -- is necessary for just enforcement of them.

1 comment:

Izzy said...

Well, what do you expect when the White House is also arguing that laws cannot be interpreted if they involve "war time" powers of the president.

And remember, "judicial activism" means "any interpretation of a law you don't like."