...Dr. Herb Titus was the founding dean of the School of Public Policy at Regent University, and later served as the founding dean of Regent Law School. Before that he studied under Dr. Francis Schaeffer, and graduated from Harvard Law School. Titus has worked with the U.S. Justice Department, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. His book God, Man, and Law is a must-read for anyone interested in preserving the rule of law for the next generation.
I contacted Dr. Titus on Friday morning for his response to the Santorum-Romney exchange. He replied back with the following:
Rick Santorum challenged Mitt Romney to justify the former Massachusetts Governors decision to implement the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruling that declared that the exclusion of otherwise qualified same-sex couples from civil marriage violated the state constitution.
After the debate, Mr. Romney stated to Mr. Santorum that he did all that he legally could to stop the implementation of the courts decision before he exercised his duty as Governor to enforce the courts decision requiring local officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He issued a challenge to Mr. Santorum to find any qualified legal authority that would not agree with him. I have been asked to meet that challenge.
I am a graduate of the Harvard Law School. I am an active member of the Virginia bar and the bar of a number of federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. As a professor of constitutional law for nearly 30 years in four different ABA-approved law schools, and as a practicing lawyer, I have written a number of scholarly articles and legal briefs on a variety of constitutional subjects; including the nature of legislative, executive and judicial powers and the constitutional separation of those powers.
I am generally familiar with the Massachusetts Constitution, and especially familiar with that constitutions provision dictating that no department shall exercise the powers that belong to either of the other two departments to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.
As Governor, Mr. Romney has claimed that he had no choice but to obey the Supreme Judicial Courts opinion. This claim is false for several reasons.
First, Mr. Romney was not a party to the case. Only parties to a case are bound to obey a court order. As President Abraham Lincoln said in support of his refusal to enforce the United States Supreme Courts infamous Dred Scott case the nations policy regarding slavery was not determined by a court opinion, even by the highest court of the land. Likewise, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts policy regarding marriage may not be determined by the Supreme Judicial Court, the States highest court.
Second, the Supreme Judicial Court did not order any party to do anything. Rather, it issued only a declaration that, in its opinion, excluding otherwise qualified same-sex couples access to civil marriage was unconstitutional. Thus, even the Massachusetts Department of Health, which was a party to the case, was not ordered to do anything.
Third, the Massachusetts Board of Health was not authorized by statute to issue marriage licenses. That was a job for Justices of the Peace and town clerks. The only task assigned by the Legislature to the Board of Health was to record the marriage license; it had no power to issue them even to heterosexual couples. So the Department of Health, the only defendant in the case, could not legally have complied with an order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Fourth, if the court were to order the Department of Health to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then Mr. Romneys duty as governor would have been to instruct the Department that it had no authority to do what the court ordered. Nor could the court confer such authority, such an authorization being in nature a legislative, not a judicial, act.
Fifth, the decision whether to implement the Supreme Judicial Courts opinion was, as the court itself acknowledged, for the Legislature to take such action as it may deem appropriate in light of [the courts] opinion. By the very terms of the order, the Massachusetts legislature had discretion to do nothing.
Sixth, because the legislature did nothing, Mr. Romney had no power to act to implement the court decision. By ordering justices of the peace, town clerks, and other officials authorized to issue marriage licenses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Mr. Romney unconstitutionally usurped legislative power, a power denied him by the Massachusetts constitution that separated the three kinds of powers into three different departments.
A 2007 article from World Net Daily quotes a slew of respected legal minds in criticizing Romney for his role in destroying marriage in Massachusetts, including Phyllis Schlafly.
Romney said we had to follow the law but what law, Schlafly is quoted as asking in the article. There is no law that requires or even allows same-sex marriages (in Massachusetts).
Finally, there is this 2006 letter sent to Romney as he was departing as governor by a long list of conservative activists from around the country. It includes signers like Paul Weyrich, one of the Founding Fathers of the conservative movement, and Robert Knight, one of the original drafters of the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by then-President Clinton. The letter also reinforces the claims made by Santorum about what Romney did to marriage in Massachusetts.
Just days after giving a speech touting his conservative credentials at the 2011 Values Voters Summit, Romney told a New Hampshire audience in October that he is a supporter of civil unions, which is really just so-called homosexual marriage by another name.
Yet again Romney is found to be playing fast and loose with the truth. Voters should be thanking Santorum for calling him on it.