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updated: 8/26/2013 10:11 AM

High court decision on DOMA correct

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Robert Meale's July 28 letter states that the Supreme Court failed to follow the will of the majority in declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Mr. Meale fails to recognize that one of the basic purposes of the Supreme Court is to protect the rights of the minority against the will of the majority in matters involving fundamental personal rights.

The majority's will is generally expressed through legislation passed by Congress, but when such legislation denies certain basic constitutional rights to the minority, the court must step in to declare such legislation unconstitutional.

For example, the Sixth Amendment states that in any criminal case the accused shall enjoy the right to a public trial. Even if the majority of a community would like a particular case to be privately tried, the accused as an individual may insist on a public trial, and the Supreme Court would so hold in favor of that minority of one. Similarly, the majority of a community might wish to have prayer recited in our public schools, but the Supreme Court may step in and support the minority that might wish prayer to be a private matter.

Again, the majority of a community may persuade its legislators to limit the benefits of marriage to heterosexual couples and not extend such rights to the minority of same-sex couples. However, the Supreme Court has held that for purposes of federal benefits, equality and justice under the constitution requires that same-sex couples who are married must receive the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

Accordingly, Mr. Meale must accept the fact that the Supreme Court acted entirely correctly when it held DOMA unconstitutional. The court protected the rights of the minority against the will of the majority, and properly so.

Theodore M. Utchen


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