Sunday, February 23, 2014
Courts - More on "Six attorneys general won’t defend their own state’s gay-marriage bans"
Don't look for Indiana Republican Greg Zoeller to join the growing number of attorneys general refusing to defend their states' laws prohibiting same-sex marriage and denying recognition of valid gay marriages performed elsewhere.ILB: The ILB had a long post on Sept. 9, 2012, headed "Indiana legislators ask federal judge to allow them to defend state's immigration law," discussing AG Zoeller's decision not to continue to defend "an Indiana immigration law he believes is unconstitutional."
"Not only is it a dereliction of duty, but to decide to walk into the courtroom and go to the other table and argue against your state client -- I can't explain it," Zoeller said. "I think I have an obligation to defend every statute passed and the authority of the men and women who were elected to do that job."
Over the past two years, the attorneys general of Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada and Oregon have refused to defend their state gay marriage bans in court because they believe denying marriage to same-sex couples runs afoul of the equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution and some state constitutions. * * *
Zoeller acknowledged his actions are more limited than most state attorneys general because his office only exists through state law and his authority could be reduced at any time by legislative action.
Therefore, he must always be mindful of his "client" —- the state and its laws — and can't freelance like officeholders in other states whose positions and powers are guaranteed by their state constitutions. * * *
Zoeller said he never complains when he has to defend laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly that are challenged in court, because it is an appropriate test of the state legislature's power.
"This is part of our constitutional checks-and-balances," Zoeller said. "It's all done with a very intricate design based on this premise that we don't trust government."
This Feb. 11, 2014 ILB post contains discussion of the basis for the Nevada AG's decision to stop defending that state's marriage amendment.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 23, 2014 01:51 PM
Posted to Courts in general