MARRIAGE PROTECTION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - July 22, 2004)
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 734, I call up the bill (H.R. 3313) to amend title 28, United States Code, to limit Federal court jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Marriage Act, and ask for its immediate consideration.
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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Wisconsin, for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, all Americans are entitled to a fair hearing before independent-minded judges whose only allegiance is to the law. However, over the last several years we have witnessed some judges wanting to determine social policy rather than interpret the Constitution. They seem to be legislators, not judges; promoters of a partisan agenda, not wise teachers relying on established law.
Judicial activism has reached a crisis. Judges routinely overrule the will of the people, invent new rights, and ignore traditional morality. Judges have redefined marriage, deemed the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, outlawed longstanding religious practices, and imposed their personal views on all Americans.
Fortunately, there is a solution. The Constitution empowers Congress to say that some subjects are off-limits to Federal courts. The constitutional authority authorizing Congress to restrain Federal courts, in fact, has been used before, and it should be used again.
The legislation being considered today preserves the right of State courts to consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA. It prevents Federal judges from ordering States to accept another State's domestic relations policy, an area of the law historically under the jurisdiction of the States, not the Federal Government.
While the bill does not dictate any conclusions about DOMA, the vast majority of States have enacted laws that support DOMA. We need to protect the right of the voters of those States to define marriage as they see it.
When Federal judges step over the line, Congress has a responsibility to drop a red flag. On behalf of the American people, we should vote for this legislation because it rightfully restrains Federal judges who threaten our democracy.