Pennsylvania Attorney General Refuses to Enforce State DOMA Law

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Refuses to Enforce State DOMA Law

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has issued a statement announcing her refusal to enforce Pennsylvania's DOMA law.

In a statement issued by her office July 11, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane (shown in photo) announced that the Office of Attorney General will not defend Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act in a recently filed lawsuit (Whitewood v. Corbett). The lawsuit challenges Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act, based on the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's version of DOMA where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional," Kane said. "It is my duty under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act whenever I determine it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth to authorize the Office of General Counsel to defend the state in litigation."

"Additionally, it is a lawyer's ethical obligation under Pennsylvania's Rules of Professional Conduct to withdraw from a case in which the lawyer has a fundamental disagreement with the client," added Kane.

Regardless of the language used by Kane to justify her disregard of state law, the fact is, she has chosen to personally nullify a law she believes violates the Constitution.

Such a posture is curious in light of the staunch opposition to nullification by most people of Kane’s political bent.

In the past, political scientists, self-proclaimed constitutional historians, and elected officials fond of federal power have disparaged nullification as “nuts” and a “bizarre fad.”

One of these nullification naysayers wrote a blog post on MSNBC declaring, “Not to put too fine a point on this, but there's nothing to discuss — state lawmakers can't pick and choose which federal laws they'll honor.”

Seems state legislators can’t pick and choose which federal laws they’ll honor unless that federal law violates their personal philosophy.

“I know that in this state there are people who don't believe in what we are doing, and I'm not asking them to believe in it. I'm asking them to believe in the constitution,” Attorney General Kane said in the press release.

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of Kathleen Kane: AP Images

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