Excerpt of Opening Statement by Chairman Trent Franks at DOMA Hearing


Here are some excerpts from Chairman Trent Franks' (R-AZ) excellent opening remarks at today's hearing in the Subcommittee on the Constitution: "The Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)".

For decades, Administrations of both parties have followed a policy of defending every federal law for which a reasonable argument can be made. This policy of defending laws respects Congress’s role as the maker of laws and the Courts’ special role in addressing the constitutionality of federal laws.

When the President unilaterally declares a duly enacted law unconstitutional, he cuts Congress and the American people out of the lawmaking process. Such heavy-handed Presidential action undermines the separation of powers and the principle that America is a constitutional republic predicated on the rule of law.

... As liberal constitutional scholar and then-head of the Office of Legal Counsel Walter Dellinger advised President Clinton, “a President should proceed with caution and with respect for the obligation that each of the branches shares for the maintenance of constitutional government.”

President Obama’s edict that DOMA is unconstitutional failed to show the caution and respect for Congress and the courts that Professor Dellinger counseled.

Far from cautious and deferential, the President’s decision was a baldly opportunistic attempt to free himself from a political dilemma. The Administration had a duty to defend DOMA, but powerful constituencies of the President did not want the President to defend it. Politics trumped duty.

... It is true that past Presidents have declined to defend certain statutes that they, in good faith, determined were unconstitutional. But never has a President refused to defend a law of such public importance, on a legal theory so far beyond any court precedent, for such transparently political reasons.

The President’s decision to ignore his duty threatens both the structure of our republic, and the time-tested structure of family itself.

The arguments in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act are not just reasonable. The arguments in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act are reasonable and right, and they have repeatedly prevailed in court.

... I am encouraged that the House is now intervening to fill the void left by the Administration’s abdication of its duty to defend the laws of the land.

Marriage deserves to be defended.

NOM Chairman Maggie Gallagher's full remarks can be found here.