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. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 3313, the so-called Marriage Protection Act. I believe Congress should be focused on supporting American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping the eight million Americans who are looking for jobs, and passing a budget laying out our priorities for fiscal year 2005. Instead, we are debating a bill that fails to address the issues that are of the most importance to our citizens and that is blatantly unconstitutional.
H.R. 3313 would strip the Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction over any cases dealing with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This would lead to a patch-work of different decisions from various States which would prove to be unmanageable. Furthermore, it would establish a ridiculous precedent. Whenever Congress passes a law, it could merely insert comparable language prohibiting Federal courts from ever reviewing that legislation to ensure it complies with the United States Constitution. In effect, this bill places the actions of Congress above the law. Clearly, this is not what our Founders intended when they established the separation of powers that has worked well for over 200 years.
This bill is unconstitutional in three ways: it violates the principle of equal protection by depriving a group of people of their right to their day in court; it is inconsistent with the due process clause which demands an independent judicial forum capable of determining Federal constitutional rights; and it violates the concept of separation of powers, so crucial to our system of governance.
Grammar school students in my home state of Wisconsin could tell you that the American system of government finds its strength from our system of checks and balances, a concept that was bold and revolutionary when the Constitution was written over 200 years ago and is now embraced by countries around the world. It is this system that keeps the presidency from becoming a dictatorship, the court from becoming an oligarchy, and members of Congress from becoming despots. If we strip the Federal courts of their seminal role in our process of law, we will have rejected the work of James Madison and the other Founding Fathers who wrote the document that is the oldest written constitution in the world still in effect. Furthermore, it jeopardizes all the rights guaranteed in our Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. It would also allow a future Congress, that may not like gun ownership in our country, to prohibit gun ownership and then strip Federal courts from the ability to review the law to see if it complies with the Second Amendment.
I cannot vote for a bill that would blatantly reject the Constitution, a document which I swore to uphold upon entering Congress. Regardless of our views on particular issues, I believe that each of us in the House of Representatives should respect the Federal courts as an equal branch of government, and I urge my colleagues to reject this bill.