By Jack Torry
WASHINGTON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage, contending that questions of marriage should be left to the 50 states as opposed to the federal government.
In legal papers filed with the court, DeWine’s office pointed out voters in Ohio in 2004 approved the ban in a statewide referendum. By striking down the decision of the voters, DeWine’s office argued, the justices would “forever place into our Constitution only one perspective on marriage.”
“Such a ruling would say that the decade-long debate in the states has been improper,” DeWine’s office contended. “It would eliminate the possibility of (and requirement for) each community to confront this issue and reach a consensus that respects all sides.”
“Our Constitution establishes local debate and consensus as the usual method for social change,” the state of Ohio argued.
The Supreme Court has scheduled an unusual 150-minute argument on April 28 on whether Ohio and three other states violated the Constitution when they prohibited same-sex marriage. It is customary for oral arguments before the justices to last just one hour.
The legal papers filed today for Ohio were drafted by Eric Murphy, the state solicitor. He urged the justices to uphold last year’s decision by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that approved the Ohio ban.
In a 5-4 decision in 2013, the justices struck down as unconstitutional a 1996 federal law defining marriage as between a man and woman. But the justices have yet to rule on whether a state can ban same-sex marriage.
James Obergefell of Cincinnati and his husband, John Arthur, challenged the Ohio ban in federal court after the twin rulings by the nation’s highest court. Obergefell appealed the 6th Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Arthur died in 2013.
The court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.