FACT Files Appeal With TN Supreme Court Concerning Marriage Licensing Laws

Aug 10, 2018

the press and series of microphones
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (August 10, 2018)—The following statement regarding an Application for Permission to Appeal filed today with the Supreme Court for the state of Tennessee in the case of Grant v. Anderson may be attributed to David Fowler, counsel for the Constitutional Government Defense Fund (CGDF), an initiative of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc.:

Today we have asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a case seeking to have the state’s judiciary decide questions of great constitutional importance arising out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that involved state laws governing the issuance of marriage licenses.

Assumptions are being made about the meaning of Obergefell’s holdings that, if unchecked, represent a seismic shift in the judiciary’s treatment of vital constitutional principles regarding the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government and the division of powers between state and federal governments.

For the first time in history, it is being assumed that the United States Supreme Court can require a local official in a state to issue a statutorily defined and authorized license that no branch of state government has every authorized that official to issue. Obergefellis being treated as a de facto amendment by a federal court of a state’s statute.

Unfortunately, the lower courts have refused to take up these questions, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that even ordained ministers who are licensed by the state to solemnize marriages for legal purposes have no right to know what effect Obergefell may have had on the laws they administer for the state. This frustrates the express purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act, which is to allow those affected by a law to resolve uncertainties surrounding that law.

The application today asks that the state Supreme Court take up an appeal to determine whether our clients should finally have their day in court.

CGDF has a similar lawsuit involving different parties that is pending in Bradley County Circuit Court. That lawsuit was not dismissed, but a ruling on the merits in that court has been deferred by the judge pending action by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty.

FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. 

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