House legislators on Tuesday filed a bill that would nullify the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision opening up same-sex marriage in the state, but House leadership has already said the bill will not move forward.
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said in a news release, “There are strong constitutional concerns with this legislation given that the U.S. Supreme Court has firmly ruled on the issue, therefore House Bill 780 will be referred to the House Rules Committee and will not be heard.”
The seemingly defunct bill, entitled the Uphold Historical Marriage Act, would nullify the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision. HB780 says that the court “overstepped its constitutional bounds” when it struck down the state’s constitutional marriage amendment, Section 6 of Article XIV of the state constitution, passed in 2012.
The section, which passed with 61 percent of the vote, reads “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
The bill states that the Supreme Court decision is null and void and the state will again enforce its definition of marriage passed in 2012, and also that “marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina.”
The bill references a passage from the Bible in Genesis stating that “’a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” as reasoning that the court decision has violated not only the power of the state and the people of North Carolina but also “the decree of Almighty God.”
The legislation also says that the court decision goes against the historically understood meaning of marriage in “all societies throughout prior history.”
The basis for the state’s authority to deny the validity of the court’s decision is the belief that states can nullify and refuse to enforce unconstitutional federal laws.
The idea first originated when Thomas Jefferson drafted the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, a document submitted in opposition to the Aliens and Sedition Acts passed in Congress in that same year.
The Kentucky Legislature passed a final version of the resolutions that did not include the language on nullification.
Jefferson’s draft said, “Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy,” and went on to say that “without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.”
While the language did not make the final draft of that law, it does give light to how Jefferson, a major architect of the Declaration of Independence and a Founding Father, saw the issue of states’ rights.
The U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
HB780 was filed by Reps. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), Michael Speciale (R-Craven) and Carl Ford (R-Rowan) and will apparently be placed in the House Rules Committee, where it will stay.