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Berger blasts NC courts official over gay marriage

Posted November 10, 2014

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger

— Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger fired back at the director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts on Monday, saying he doesn't understand the law and is ignoring magistrates' First Amendment right not to marry a sex-sex couple.

Berger's letter to Judge John Smith is the latest salvo over magistrates who cite religious objections to presiding over a gay marriage ceremony.

After several magistrates resigned their posts rather than be required to marry same-sex couples, Berger two weeks ago said he would file legislation that would explicitly permit magistrates to decline to perform same-sex marriages. He said magistrates who hold strong religious objections should be able to opt out of performing such marriages.

Smith then sent a three-page letter to all magistrates last Wednesday, saying that Berger may have "misled" them regarding their rights. The letter noted that some counties have only one magistrate and that federal laws have invalidated the state's prohibitions on same-sex marriages.

Berger's response says Smith "continues to sow seeds of doubt among courthouse officials and wrongly disregards one of our most cherished freedoms," adding that Smith's analysis of the situation "misunderstands the interplay between Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991" as well as ignores the First Amendment.

Federal courts haven't yet settled whether state bans against same-sex marriage are valid, he said.

"More troublingly, your communication lacks any sort of reasonable effort to constructively guide courthouse officials at a time when such leadership is needed most," Berger wrote. "Far from misleading anyone, our October 24 letter encourages thoughtful consideration of a sensitive matter of public law. To actively discourage such conciliation is inexplicable."

48 Comments

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  • dwntwnboy2 Nov 14, 2014

    They just find new ways to waste money don't they??

  • Terry Watts Nov 14, 2014
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    View quoted thread


    The defense of one corrupt "scum-bag" is to point to another and say "they do it too!"

    Typical Conservative mentality.

  • miseem Nov 14, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Well, the difference is that the Health Care genius is correct, at least in the context he was talking about, while Berger is wrong. All you need to do is look at the results of polls in Kentucky, which set up their Obamacare account under a different name, Kynect. A large majority disapproved of Obamacare, but loved Kynect. Although they are the same thing. Other polls show people wanting to keep the pre-existing condition exemption and the right to keep children on family policies until age 26, two of the benefits that will significantly increase cost to insurance companies . Yet if you understand the concept behind the ACA, those benefits cannot be supported without mandatory enrollment into health insurance plans. For one thing, the wider insurance pool base covers more of the cost of granting those benefits, and it keeps someone from waiting until they need expensive health care to buy coverage with no pre-existing condition exclusion.

  • raleighboy524 Nov 13, 2014

    Berger's intense interest in this issue is intriguing.

  • RDUResident Nov 13, 2014

    Say for instance my religious belief requires that I not work. I have every right NOT to get hired to any job that requires.... work. It's a free market, folks. Take some other job if you don't like the duties of the post.

  • miseem Nov 12, 2014

    View quoted thread


    You keep saying it is an exact quote from Holder. It is not. And he is stating that if the state passes a law that an attorney general considers unconstitutional after careful study, he is not required to defend it. For example, if the NCGA had in fact approved the law a legislator proposed to set up a state religion, the attorney general would be within his rights to refuse to defend it in court. But I guess you think the attorney general should be required to defend all of the laws passed by the NCGA, regardless of their constitutionality.

  • Tony Snark Nov 12, 2014

    View quoted thread


    He just pointed out the difference very well in his post. The problem is with what you want to believe.

  • USMC Vet Nov 12, 2014

    Berger is an example of politicians with NO clue that others with NO clue vote into office.

    Magistrates are STATE employees hired to fulfill their jobs according to the letter of state AND federal laws.

    They are not church employees hired to fulfill church obligations.

    If they cannot fulfill their STATE positions to the letter of the law, then they should resign.

    Cutting them a huss for slacking on their STATE jobs because of religious convictions will just open a can of worms that will probably never be closed again, cause if it's open, then what's to prevent another STATE employee from saying they won't serve someone whose race, religion, nationality or sexual preferences don't match with theirs?

  • mediawatcher Nov 12, 2014

    As has been stated repeatedly, this country is not a democracy where the majority rules but is a constitutional republic where the Constitution rules. Therefore, the people cannot vote away the Constitutional rights of other citizens. Very simple concept that seems to be difficult for some to grasp.

  • tracmister Nov 12, 2014

    A lot of people have commented that the will of the people should prevail over the courts. If that were the case, segregation may not have ended in the South. That is why we have a balance of power and the courts are the final determining factor for laws. What a constitutional amendment, two thirds of the Senate and seventy-five percent of the states.

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