Friday, April 17, 2009

More On the Gay Marriage Ruling In Iowa

If you would, read through these first three excerpts from previous Supreme Court rulings here in Iowa and see if you get the gist of what they are saying:

"It is, of course, the role of the legislature to write statutes, and it is our role to interpret them based on their application in the course of litigation. Moreover, the legislature can rewrite a statute to reflect its intent when it does not believe our interpretation in a particular case has accomplished this goal." GEORGIA M. RATHJE v.MERCY HOSPITAL,No. 115 / 04-2081, Supreme Court of Iowa, February 22, 2008

"Additionally, we are bound to follow the legislature's definitions and may not add words or change terms under the guise of judicial construction." Iowa Department of Transportation v. Soward, 650 N.W.2d 569 Supreme Court of Iowa September 5, 2002

"To solve the dilemma posed by the amendments, we must read into chapter 20, as amended, language that simply is not there. This, of course, is not within our province. We are bound by what the legislature said, not by what it should or might have said." O'HARA v. STATE, 642 N.W.2d 303 Supreme Court of Iowa April 3, 2002

So what is your summation of those excerpts? I'm guessing that it was similar to mine when they were brought to my attention. They lay out that the Supreme Court of Iowa or any court in Iowa can not read between the lines, add their own words or interpret the words differently than the legislators of Iowa intended. So with that in mind, here is an excerpt from the unanimous opinion about gay marriage here in Iowa.

"Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage." Varnum v. Brien, Supreme Court of Iowa, April 3, 2009

I'm not a lawyer and I haven't slept at a Holiday Inn Express in several weeks but it appears to me is that this group of justices in our Supreme Court of Iowa are telling the legislature what words should be added or removed from the current law and how the law should be interpreted. Frank D. Myers makes a case otherwise in his comments to a post on his blog that by ruling the law unconstitutional, it is essentially stripped from the constitution. So what will happen here next week is anybody's guess at this point. I found it interesting and thought my readers and commenter's from my last post on the subject might want to know.


Murf said...

My thought was that it sounded a lot like my essay exam questions back in high school when it had to be 2 pages so you kept saying the same thing in different ways to fill up the space. I did like the use of "guise". I used that word this week too.

R. Sherman said...


The only thing left is for the people of Iowa to vote on amending Iowa's constitution, which is what Missouri did.

sage said...

Based on what you shown, I would have to agree with you. But I also know that they are excepts and I wonder what's missing, but I'm not sufficently interested in what's happening in Iowa (take no offense as I'd not expect you to be that interested in what happens here) for me to dig deeper.

I can see the ads by the Iowa tourism council... We're not just about corn" and "Des Moines, the new San Francisco..." (just kidding!)

Ed Abbey said...

Murf - I remember those and I never did very well at them.

R. Sherman - Has the new admendment in Missouri withstood any legal tests yet? I'm worried that even should an admendment get added in 2011, that with the same judges in the Iowa Supreme Court that they would just rule that it is unconstitutional. I suppose there are ways to word it so that it can't be stripped as easily as it was this time. I wish I was more in tune with legalese to understand the options.

Sage - I'm know there is a lot more to it and right now, I'm not digging too much into it either. I've been pretty focused lately on our local town politics as they seem determined to spend as much as they possibly can. Here we are a year and a half in a recession with housing values plummeting across the country and mine went up... a lot, according to the local assessor.

Frank D. Myers said...

Not "stripped from the constitution." The difficulty for proponents of opposite-sex marriage only is that there is no definition of marriage in the constitution (which is why some Republicans are lambasting former leaders for not working harder to put the definition there when the GOP had a legislative edge). The Supreme Court ruling voided the one-man-one-woman language of the statute, in effect voiding the entire statute, by ruling that "one-man-one-woman" violated the constitution's equal protection clause. Yikes. I'm going to go listen to Susan Boyle again. More uplifting!

The Real Mother Hen said...

Hhmmm, I came from a common law country where judges interpret the laws as they deem fit and base on prior cases, so I see nothing wrong. But again, this is not a common law country, so I better shut up.

Do the farmers in Iowa use Atrazine? If yes, passing the law may be the best thing ever happened many years later when you look back.

Frank D. Myers said...

Also --- the Supreme Court really can't, I think, rule on a legitimate amendment to the consitution. That's beyond its power. If a marriage amendment were there, those who oppose it would be the ones now working for an amendment to override a previous amendment as happened with prohibition and the U.S. Constitution. Now I really am going to go listen to Susan Boyle.

Murf said...

Frank - Check out Paul Potts from the same show in 2007. Amazing!

Ed Abbey said...

Frank Myers - I guess I'm not following you. You said, "The difficulty for proponents of opposite-sex marriage only is that there is no definition of marriage in the constitution..."

It stated up until last week in section 595.2.1, "Only a marriage between a male and a female is valid." For me, that is the definition of marriage. In my opinion, Iowa did have an amendment defining marriage but it has been essentially made invlaid/stripped from our constitution now and that makes me wonder how any other admentment in the future can be any more specific and not face the same ruling.

To rule it unconstitutional based on equal protection, I think you have to assume that gays are excluded or different from the catagories man or woman. Since gays fall into the catagories of men or women, I fail to see how that is unconstitutional which is why in a previous post, I asked how left handed people were any different if they asked for specific legislation since they too are comprised of men and women?

Trying to think rationally about all this on a Friday is hard to do. Listening to Susan Boyle is a good suggestion.

Mother Hen - I thought Atrazine couldn't be used in Iowa but I just googled it and couldn't find anything that confirms that. Perhaps that belief just comes from my father's avoidance of using it.

To those who don't understand, Mother Hen wrote a splurb a few days ago about how atrazine caused male frogs to obtain the ability to lay eggs.

Murf - I have seen a clip of that I think. He is the boy with the high pitched voice?

Beau said...

I'm sure the battle isn't over- and maybe a few folks are awake now that previously didn't consider differing viewpoints to have such far reaching ramifications.