Groups file federal suit against Mass. high court
BOSTON (BP)--Four pro-family groups filed a lawsuit in federal court on May 10 seeking to prevent the implementation of a ruling by Massachusetts' highest court that would legalize same-sex "marriage" in the state. Their filing comes only one week before the controversial ruling is set to take effect in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit asks the federal court for a temporary restraining order and argues that the ruling by the Massachusetts high court violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of a republic form of government.
The lawsuit was filed by four pro-family groups on behalf of Catholic Action League Vice President Robert Largess, a Boston citizen. The ruling by the Massachusetts high court legalizing same-sex "marriage" is scheduled to take effect May 17.
"When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court usurped the power of the Legislature by reformulating the definition of marriage, it violated the federal constitutional guarantee of a Republican form of government," Mat Staver, president of one of the groups involved, Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "We are confident that the federal courts will act to restrain this abuse of power by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court."
The lawsuit names as defendants the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state's department of public health and the city registrar of Boston.
The action is the latest in an attempt to prevent Massachusetts from becoming the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. So far, two attempts have failed.
The American Center for Law and Justice saw its effort to halt the ruling fail May 7, when the Massachusetts high court ruled against an ACLJ request to vacate or delay the ruling. The ACLJ asserted that under the Massachusetts constitution the court has no jurisdiction over marriage laws. But the court disagreed.
The ACLJ argued that the Massachusetts constitution gives authority over marriage laws only to the governor and the legislature.
"As of today, I'd say it is inevitable that a week from today, marriage licenses [will be] issued," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said on his radio program May 10.
On May 3 Associate Justice Roderick L. Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court ruled against an effort by Liberty Counsel and three other groups to delay the ruling. Those four groups are the ones that filed the federal lawsuit May 10.
"The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court usurped the power of the governor and the legislature when it impermissibly redefined marriage to include same-sex couples," Staver said. "The federal courts are obligated to step in to ensure that Massachusetts is following the basic principle of separation of powers that is vital to our very system of law and government."
The lawsuit claims that the ruling violates the U.S. Constitution's Article 4, Section 4, which states: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republic form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; an on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence."
In addition to Liberty Counsel, other groups involved are the Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights, the Thomas More Law Center and the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy.
Meanwhile, another pro-family group, the Alliance Defense Fund, is attempting to have the case tossed out and has a hearing May 12 before a Massachusetts Superior Court judge.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarrage.