Last edited: February 27, 2005

Prof: Courts Taking More Power

Corvallis Gazette-Times, February 22, 2005

By Theresa Hogue, Gazette-Times reporter

A lecture by a Brigham Young University law professor on marriage and the Constitution was met with some angry responses, but with the vocal support of most of the more than 200 audience members who attended his lecture at Oregon State University on Tuesday night.

Richard G. Wilkins, managing director of the World Family Policy Center at BYU, spoke about his concerns that the Supreme Court has drawn away from its role of interpreting the written Constitution, toward making decisions that should remain the domain of American voters.

“It’s a distressing but well established trend away from democracy,” he said.

Wilkins cited several Supreme Court decisions in the past four decades which extended the court’s power far beyond the vision of the nation’s founders, including the 1967 Griswold v. Connecticut decision that ruled the state was not allowed to forbid married couples to use condoms on the grounds that the government was not supposed to interfere in a sacred and private relationship such as marriage.

“The Constitution nowhere mentions the word term, or the right, to privacy,” Wilkins said.

He said the Lawrence v. Texas decision, which ruled that homosexual sodomy could not be criminalized, paved the way for the Supreme Court to ultimately decide same sex marriage should be legal as well, and he believes it’s a dangerous path.

“I fully support an amendment (to the Constitution) that defines marriage in a clear response to Lawrence,” he said. “That should wake (the Supreme Court) up.”

Wilkins said the definition of marriage is not two people who love each other. He said the traditional definition of marriage is a man and a woman who unite in a committed, lifetime relationship for the purpose of procreation.

“The ideal for any society is sexual complementary of a long duration focused on the bearing and rearing of children,” he said, pointing to research he said proves that any society that deviates from this system is doomed to fall apart within three generations.

Wilkins’ comments elicited some angry responses from members of the audience who objected to this definition, especially his comments that children suffer if they’re not living with their biological mother and father.

However, he defended his arguments and said he’d support legislation that provided other legal protections for non-traditional families, but none that would “undo the rules of marriage.”

“You don’t make society better by undoing established structures,” he said.

The event was sponsored by the LDS Student Association with support from OSU Convocations & Lectures.

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