Column: Rule of law at risk because of political ambition

Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
Michael Schuttloffel is the executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.

The redefinition of marriage will have far-reaching consequences for society, bot foreseen and unforeseen


by Michael Schuttloffel

The collateral damage will not be limited to the children who will grow up without mothers or without fathers. The very principle of the rule of law may well prove to be a casualty of America’s headlong rush to overthrow thousands of years of culture in the space of a few short years.

In February, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared that state attorneys general need not defend their state’s marriage laws in court, and several of them have chosen not to. This flies in the face of the fundamental principle of American government that officials in the executive branch shall enforce duly passed laws, whether they agree with them or not.

A state attorney general is the lawyer for his state and its people. For an attorney general to refuse to defend his state’s duly passed laws in court simply because he does not like them is to fail to defend the positions of his client, which is a violation of legal ethics. Moreover, it is to replace the rule of law with the rule of men.

If a state attorney general refuses to defend his state’s marriage law in court, it may well be the case that no one else will have “standing” to mount that defense. Meaning that a state attorney general may singlehandedly have the power to effectively nullify a state constitution amendment passed by 70 percent or more of that state’s voters.

If attorneys general only defend in court these laws they personally support, our system cannot function. Such behavior is an invitation to chaos. What other laws will politically ambitious attorneys general be free to disregard?

Adding to the scandal is the fact that these rogue attorneys general are jeopardizing rule of law over an issue that is already destined to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their actions are not taken for the sake of “marriage equality” so much as for their own political ambitions. They fear the wrath of same-sex marriage activists who have warned them to be on the “right side of history” or forget about higher office.

Forty-one years ago, the Supreme Court took the issue of abortion out of the hands of the democratic process and decided the matter themselves. Now that the court appears poised to do the same thing with marriage, some state attorneys general have decided they want in on the action. Once upon a time, legislatures elected by the people made the laws in this country. That notion will soon seem as quaint as families with a mom and a dad.

 

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