Unable to Find Votes, Right Looks to Court Stripping

As the House is set to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—even after the amendment failed to get a simple majority in the Senate, much less the required two-thirds majority—Rod Parsley’s Center for Moral Clarity reminds us that the point is politics and the upcoming elections.

“This important House vote will put every member of Congress on record as either supporting biblical marriage or siding with activist judges and others who would expand the definition of marriage,” said Pastor Rod Parsley, founder and president of the Center for Moral Clarity. “Undoubtedly, many members of Congress would prefer not to cast this vote so close to an election – but it’s important that voters know where they stand on this critical issue.”

But others are looking to unconstitutional tricks to get around the amendment process. The goal of “court-stripping” legislation is to simply declare that federal courts are no longer allowed to hear the claims of citizens that their rights are violated. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins–decrying the “judicial activism” behind the Supreme Court decision finding unconstitutional Bush’s military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees–encourages court-stripping, along with right-wing judicial nominees, as a long-term strategy, citing two court-stripping bills in the works:

Congress needs to resist this judicial activism. One way to constitutionally check the courts is with measures like the Pledge Protection Act sponsored by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and another way is Cong. John Hostettler’s (R-IN) Public Expression of Religion Act (PERA). Finally, we can give a fair up or down vote to judicial nominees like William J. Haynes.

Now, even as the House vote on the anti-gay marriage amendment looks to fail, Human Events endorses a court-stripping bill to circumvent the Constitution on the issue of marriage:

Unfortunately, the [marriage] amendment failed in the Senate last month, receiving only 49 votes. It is also destined to fail in the House: In the last Congress, it received only 227 votes, more than 60 shy of the super-majority needed. But there is a way Congress can act this year to protect state marriage laws from activist liberal judges. Rep. John Hostettler (R.-Ind.) has proposed a bill that would strip all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction to hear any challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). …

Hostettler’s Marriage Protection Act has practical and political advantages. For starters, unlike the constitutional amendment, if pushed by the Republican leadership, it has a real chance of becoming law. … Secondly, it is a tougher political test for Democratic congressmen trying to convince voters they are not out of touch with traditional American values. … Precisely because the Marriage Protection Act can become law, Democratic leaders are fretful of letting even Red State Members vote for it–if they can help it.

Perhaps soon the Right will come up with a bill to ban blogs, and declare that we can no longer defend our rights in court. It’s certainly a convenient strategy to avoid that pesky Constitution.