Whatever the eventual impact of the Supreme Court’s opinions on marriage this week, a Christian public policy law firm says it has assured the nation of a long period of litigation over the issue, probably lasting years.
The Thomas More Society says hundreds of federal rights and benefits must be changed.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling … in United States v. Windsor refocuses the debate over the nature and purpose of marriage back to the 50 states, while requiring the federal government to recognize each state’s definition of marriage,” the organization said.
“By invalidating a federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, the Supreme Court has upended the interpretation of the over 1,000 federal rights and benefits, the full impact of which will not be known for months, if not years, and will certainly result in a flood of litigation.”
The non-profit legal group said the court’s decision on California’s Proposition 8 is full of holes.
“The Supreme Court did not address the merits of the Perry v. Hollingsworth case, leaving each state free to define marriage as it wishes. The debate over marriage now returns to the people, with education and advocacy needed more than ever to emphasize the overwhelming interest in providing children both a mother and a father whenever possible,” said the group, which is marking its 15th anniversary.
Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha said his group filed briefs in both cases, so he’s disappointed by the rulings.
“We think there’s something unique about a man and a woman getting married. We do believe in biological science plus the theological aspect of it,” Brejcha said. “Marriage requires a man and a woman and without that, they’re not going to have kids.”
He said his group also has addressed the concerns of county clerks in Illinois.
“We intervened to help the county clerks when the attorney general and all the county prosecutors balked and refused to defend marriage here,” Brejcha said.
And he said he would be busy even without the coming cases that inevitably will arise over the definition of marriage.
“We’re also involved in religious liberty cases. We have a number of cases going against the HHS mandate,” he said.
A Massachusetts pro-life lobbyist said he’s lobbied against abortion for over 10 years to save babies.
“Now, it’s unthinkable that I also have to lobby to defend the institution that can produce those babies,” he said.
Brejcha believes that even though the society began in the pro-life movement, its expansion into religious liberty cases only means the work load will rise.
“We’re growing and it’s a growth industry we’re in. Folks who abide by traditional religious beliefs are under the gun,” Brecha said. “When the Obama administration pushes an all-out assault against believers and [is] trying to limit religious freedom too, and what happens in the four walls of churches, we think that folks who not only profess but preach their religion are going to need an increasing degree of protection in the courts.”
Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society has an affiliate in Omaha, Neb.
“We get lawyers who know how to practice law and their faith at the same time,” Brejcha said.
Brejcha says more lawyers are discovering that there’s good reason for them to get involved in religious liberty cases.
“More lawyers are seeing the need to hearken to the call to defend things that are really important on the firing line,” Brejcha said.
He also believes that the country may be waking up to some spiritual realities.
“I really think there’s a great awakening going on here and that people are going to bounce back from their apathy,” Brejcha said. “That’s what it amounts to, they realize they have fight for their faith. Faith counts, and it counts in the corridors as well as in the churches.”
When will the fight end?
“It’s going to last beyond my lifetime. What we’ve begun is just a small foreshadowing of what lies ahead,” Brejcha said.
The firm came on the scene in 1997 as members defended Joseph Scheidler, the pro-life physician and national director of the Pro-Life Action League. He tangled with the National Organization of Women.
Brejcha said his organization was born out of the pro-life movement and always will be pro-life.
He was a business lawyer in the 1980s when a suit was filed against Joseph Scheidler and his group, the Pro-Life Action League.
“Under the anti-trust laws, they asked me to advise the young lawyers who were on the firing line,” Brejcha said.
“I advised. We filed some motions to dismiss the suit against Scheidler,” Brejcha said. “We thought it was incredible that they were using the anti-trust laws, which were largely to regulate commerce, to regulate and control pro-life activities.”
Brejcha said the Southern Poverty Law Center “was still kicking up dust on the case.”
“They added RICO charges, racketeering and extortion, along with the anti-trust charges. We got the judge to throw out everything, and the appellate court affirmed that decision,” Brejcha said.
“The Supreme Court left the anti-trust dismissal intact, but they took the RICO appeal. We lost 9-0, and that was a setback. But we went down to the lower court,” Brejcha said. “By that time I had been on the case 11 years, and my partners said quit the case or quit the firm.”
Brejcha quit the firm and through that decision the Thomas More Society was created.
He eventually won the case at the Supreme Court.
He said much of the credit for the present pro-life movement needs to be given to Scheidler, who authored the book “99 Ways to Stop Abortion.” Among the public methods of stopping abortion were talking to reporters, writing letters to the editor and litigation.