Thursday, July 11, 2013

Suit Filed Challenging Pennsylvania DOMA - Attorney General Won’t Defend "Unconstitutional" Law

Making good on its promise, the ACLU filed suit today in federal court challenging Pennsylvania's anti-gay DOMA law.  The ACLU has promised to file suits shortly in both Virginia and North Carolina challenging those state's anti-gay state constitutional amendments.  Here in Virginia, a new poll shows that 55% of Virginians now support gay marriage.  That, of course will mean nothing to self-loathing closet case, Attorney General/GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli who will no doubt defend Virginia's animus based amendment and dutifully following orders dictated to him by the Christofascists at The Family Foundation.   But back to Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (pictured above) has said that she will not defend the statute because it is "wholly unconstitutional" in the wake of the holding in United States v. Windsor.  Now, the question is whether or not GOP Governor Tom Corbett will step forward to defend the anti-gay law.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post:

Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane announced Thursday afternoon she will not defend the state in a federal lawsuit filed this week challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, calling the prohibition “wholly unconstitutional.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Tuesday on behalf of 23 Pennsylvania residents, including 10 couples, a widow and two children, naming Kane and the state’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett as defendants. Kane’s move, announced to reporters at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center, places the burden of defending the law on the governor’s general counsel. Corbett supports the prohibition on same-sex marriage, which passed the state legislature in 1996.
“If there is a law that I feel that does not conform with the Pennsylvania state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, then I ethically cannot do that as a lawyer,” she said.

Thomas Peters, spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage, said Kane’s refusal to defend the ban represented a sort of “pocket veto” of the law.

Kane framed her decision both in terms of her constitutional obligations and her commitment to Pennsylvania residents, saying that in a choice between defending the law and serving the public, “I choose you.”

Mary Catherine Roper, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said she and others involved in the lawsuit were “celebrating” in the wake of Kane’s announcement.

“To have the highest law enforcement official of the Commonwealth come out and say, ‘I agree with you, this law is unjust, that’s huge for us,’” Roper said in a phone interview, her voice audibly emotional.

However the the state GOP chairman Rob Gleason released a statement calling it “unacceptable for Attorney General Kathleen Kane to put her personal politics ahead of her taxpayer-funded job by abdicating her responsibilities.”
As a licensed attorney of over 35 years, I believe that Kane has taken the ethically correct posture.  As an attorney - which she is - she is ethically bound NOT to make false and fraudulent arguments to the Court.  With the decision in Windsor so clearly zeroing in on the anti-gay animus that was behind the federal DOMA law - the same type of anti-gay animus that was behind both the Pennsylvania law and the constitutional amendments in Virginia and North Carolina - to defend such a law law that is based on nothing but animus and extreme religious beliefs could theoretically expose an attorney to sanctions by the Court and disciplinary actions by the applicable state bar.  Not that such concerns will constrain Ken Cuccinelli and similar Christofascists who deem themselves above the laws and rules that govern the rest of us.   Religious belief has no place in the civil laws of the states or the nation.

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