News and Tribune

April 3, 2013

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For April 3


AG says role is to defend state’s authority

 

The law of the land recognizes the authority of states to license marriage. The majority of states, including Indiana, provide a marriage license only to a man and woman, while nine states also allow same-sex couples to receive a license to marry.

Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, in 1996 that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal benefits. Under DOMA, states with the traditional definition of marriage need not recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

The two cases before the United States Supreme Court challenge both Congress’ traditional definition of marriage in DOMA and California’s traditional definition in its Proposition 8. The central question before the court in each case is: Does the government commit irrational discrimination by adhering to the traditional definition of marriage that has always — until very recently — prevailed in society?

The arguments presented to the court reflect a wide range of viewpoints within the legal community and our society as a whole. Indiana, represented by my office and joined by many other states, filed “friend of the court” briefs in the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases defending our state’s authority and the constitutionality of our current laws.

There are many who vehemently disagree with this position. I appreciate that there are strongly held views on both sides of this societal debate and understand that opinion polls have shown a dramatic change in public attitude in recent years toward same-sex marriage. But my duty as Indiana attorney general is to represent our state and to uphold and defend our state statutes when challenged, not to represent my personal views or what polls might suggest is popular opinion.

The obligation of attorneys general to defend existing statutes has been brought into question in these two Supreme Court cases, in that the U.S. attorney general and the California state attorney general are not defending their own federal and state laws that are being directly challenged.

To make things more confusing to the public, the president, who has stated that his personal views have evolved over the past few years, has decided to have the Justice Department’s U.S. solicitor general argue against upholding DOMA at the Supreme Court. He has expressed through his Justice Department’s legal filings his own opinion that DOMA is unconstitutional.

I view my duty differently. As Indiana attorney general, I don’t get to define marriage or vote on legislation. Instead, as state government’s lawyer I am obligated to defend our state’s laws passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Indiana Legislature. Our state’s legislative branch has the policy-making authority to license marriage within our state’s borders using the traditional marriage definition, and I will continue to defend their legal authority in court as necessary.

Rather than presuming to decide the constitutionality of our laws by leaving them undefended, I will uphold my responsibility to defend them and instead let the judicial branch decide if they are constitutional, as is its role.

— Greg Zoeller, Indiana Attorney General, Indianapolis

 

‘We the people’ are part of the problem

 

It’s “We the people,” not we the Congress, we the judges or we the presidency.

Of late, I’ve received numerous requests through the mail to support this platform of this person, or that principal for that party. Explaining how to draft this bill, amend that bill or veto the other bill that doesn’t measure up to the standards of Washington today.

Let’s face it: Capital Hill is broken. Partisanship is molded bread of which they all feast.

Should we blame Washington? Why is Washington so blankly corrupt?

Pandering is what’s wrong in Washington. The politicians want to please all, and by wanting to please all, keep their jobs to serve the people back home. Only they aren’t pleasing all and feathers do get ruffled and in some cases plucked.

It isn’t Washington that has brought this blight on our nation. It is the grassroots from which these people are elected. We the people have corrupted ourselves. Corruption breeds corruption. 

That’s what’s wrong with America. United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Are we a United States of America or are we a plethora of boroughs of different ideals imposing commandments of men on others, rather than following the commandments of God to all?

Until we fix our own houses back home, Congress and the White House will be a reflection of ourselves. We the people are reaping what we have chosen to sow and it doesn’t say much for the legacy we are leaving future generations of Americans.

— Leroy Heil, Jeffersonville