PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3313, MARRIAGE PROTECTION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - July 22, 2004)
Mrs. MYRICK. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 734 and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this rule, because this debate must be removed from the courts who are filled with unelected, lifetime judges, and the debate should be moved from those courts back into the court of the people, back into the courthouse square instead of in the courthouse.
Mr. Speaker, Congress has the constitutional right to be involved in this process, and I can tell that the debate has already covered that, so I am going to limit my comments. But the Constitution declares that Congress will be involved in making these sorts of decisions in determining what the Federal courts will and will not hear. It was, in fact, that judicial review process that Judge Marshall made in Marbury v. Madison that began the process of judicial review that is not even called for in the Constitution, and judicial review which has extended the power of the courts beyond, beyond, and beyond where the original Framers of the Constitution intended for the courts to have power and, in doing so, have eroded the power of the legislative branch.
Mr. Speaker, we have encountered in our history a very clear, similar case, exactly paralleling what we are doing today. We had a time in our history when there were definitions that the courts began to give, such as the definition of slavery.
It was the Supreme Court that decided in the Dred Scott decision that the issue of slavery involved the will of the minority and said that the will of the minority could not be subjected to the will of the majority. Of course, the courts at that time did a small sleight of hand because the minority that they were talking about was really the minority slave holders, the owners of slaves, and they overlooked the rights of the minority of the slaves themselves. We fought a Civil War over the Supreme Court's definitions at that point.
Instead of really understanding that the will of the people had spoken and the ensuing constitutional amendments, the courts later, in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, established the Separate but Equal Doctrine that again was offensive to the multitudes of people in this country.
Right now we have a Supreme Court that is willing to declare its will on the people no matter what the people say, and I think that the rule is extremely important here, because it begins to take that right back from the Supreme Court and put the discussion in this body who represents and can be elected and unelected by the people. The Supreme Court cannot be unelected, ever, and it is a very critical element of this argument.
But to those people who say this is an emotional issue, they are exactly correct. Our office spent over 20 hours discussing the issue, and we have people inside our office who were on both sides of the issue. But at the end of the day, nature has described what a marriage is. Law only fundamentally defines what nature has already defined: that a man and a woman come together, they create life, and it is the only life-creating institution and the only life-creating relationship in the world, and then the bonding process of that keeps them together in order to nurture and to grow the children and the offspring.
Mr. Speaker, that is the relationship that people are asking about, and it is a good question. Should gays be allowed to marry? Well, yes, they can, and they should be allowed to marry. But marriage, by definition of nature, is between a man and a woman, and if they are going to marry, they have to marry a man or a woman. The discussion is absolutely centered around this question, and it is not a matter of right and it is not a matter of discrimination.
But what the other side of the aisle wants to do is to redefine marriage for all people. It is the redefinition that is wrong, because there is no civil rights abridgement here. Many black leaders are speaking in favor of this. This is the will of the people saying we must have a discussion among the people as to what is marriage and how it is defined.
For these reasons, I support the rule, Mr. Speaker.
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Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, again, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time and support the rule.
The comments about conservative-leaning courts just fly in the face of actual fact. This court in Lawrence v. Texas was not exactly right-leaning, and that is a fairly recent decision. In fact, the case of the Congress over being willing to declare what the courts can and cannot look at is a very recent occurrence, as our friends on the other side of the aisle seem to have forgotten that Mr. Daschle himself wrote into the legislation that the court cannot even oversee the removal of shrubbery and scrub brush from the national forest in South Dakota.
And certainly if the Supreme Court and the courts can be held back from considering anything in the management of those forests, it might just reach the threshold that the American people should have the right to say that the Federal courts would not be the last point of reference there.
I would go back again to my friend's comment that quoting the Dred Scott decision is like quoting from the Ku Klux Klan civil rights manual. I think that the mixing of conversations there was certainly not based on fact. The Dred Scott decision was a decision by not a Republican court to establish slavery as the legitimate form of activity in this country. The Dred Scott decision was the one that authorized and made slavery legal, and it was against the will of the people that that was done. And it is similar to the case now where the courts would operate against the will of the people.
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Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me time.
I rise to support the rule and the underlying bill. We have got several comments from our friends on the other side of the aisle that definitely demand a closer look. First, the statement that this side of the aisle is bringing this highly charged issue up right now as an electionary issue. I am sorry, but it was not this side of the body that began to cause people to go down in acts of defiance of the law, began to get licenses and get marriages approved that were currently against the law. It was not this side of the aisle that brought those up. We are simply responding that now that the issue has come up, we need to deal with it.
Also, there was a comment that we are diminishing democracy, and absolutely the opposite thing is occurring. We are empowering the democracy and we are empowering the people. But the other side is working under the very knowledge and the very truth that if they can find one court and four judges they can create law in this country. That is not empowering democracy. This bill and this rule empower democracy.
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Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Speaker, wrapping up my comments for this part of the debate, I again rise to support the rule and the underlying bill.
This bill does not favor or disfavor any particular result or any group of people. It is motivated by the desire to preserve for the States the authority to decide whether the shield Congress enacted to protect them from having to accept same-sex marriage licenses out of State will hold.
This bill does not eliminate any group from the Constitution, but instead, recognizes the 10th amendment of the Constitution which declares that all rights are reserved for the States except those which are specifically given to the Federal Government.
I would comment that the observations of the last gentleman are completely contrary to the 10th amendment of the Constitution.