Editorial

High esteem for the high court on the nation’s birth date

June 28, 2013
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The U.S. Supreme Court is the one institution in this country that endures as a bastion of integrity and intellectual purity even through the most vigorous debate, and sets for all else the model of behavior and exemplary, succinct prose. 

All that is lost, however, on those who subvert such qualities, aided and often encouraged by media seeking ratings points and no eloquence in their deed.

By the end of June, the high court made its rulings on no fewer than 11 cases that have significant impact on everyday life for Americans — from business owners to college admissions officials. 

There cannot be a person in the world who did not anticipate rancor from one group or another as a result of the most awaited decision of the session on the issue of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and cites special federal benefits to married couples such as Internal Revenue Service rules.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the Dissenting Opinion, recognizing the polarity of the issue. 

“Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many.”

Despite the myriad of “things” a less astute population assigns as a “Supreme Court ruling,” the court did not “ratify” gay marriage. No Justice even presumed to take such a cause, leaving that issue to the states, as it should.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the Opinion of the Court, noting several states have conferred upon “this class of persons the right to marry.” Kennedy wrote: “When the State used its historic and essential authority to define the marital relation in this way, its role and power in making the decision enhanced the recognition.” 

Writing for the court, Kennedy then wrote: “For same-sex couples who wished to be married, the State acted to give lawful conduct a lawful status. … It reflects both the community’s considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality.” 

The majority opinion held the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment because it displaces those individuals granted such rights by their own community (the state).

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had it right in the first hours after the opinion was made public, issuing his statement: "The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states, not the federal government, retain the constitutional authority to define marriage. Michigan's Constitution stands and the will of the people to define marriage as between one man and one woman endures in the Great Lakes State." 

So, too, did Gov. Rick Snyder, whose spokeswoman noted the decision has no effect on Michigan’s 2004 constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriage. She noted that Snyder is focused on “Michigan's continued comeback, jobs, a healthy Michigan and our kids."

So, too, are West Michigan business leaders …  right after the Fourth of July celebrations honoring this nation’s birth and the enduring foundation of separate branches of government, best represented by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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