Prominent Legal Scholars Join ACLU Lawsuit Challenging Georgia Marriage Amendment

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
October 20, 2004 12:00 am

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ATLANTA–The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia announced today that more than 50 legal scholars and law professors have filed a court brief opposing a proposed state amendment that would exclude same-sex couples from marriage rights and could potentially ban recognition of civil unions or domestic partnerships.

“We are hopeful that the sheer volume of participants in this amicus brief, from all the law schools in Georgia, will have a profound impact on the court,” said Beth Littrell, an ACLU of Georgia attorney. The ACLU, along with Lambda Legal and the law firm of Alston & Bird, filed the original lawsuit challenging the proposed amendment on behalf of seven Georgia residents, including a Baptist minister, two state legislators and a rabbi.

The court brief argues that the proposed amendment, known as Amendment One, violates the state constitution because it excludes same-sex couples from marriage, could ban creation or recognition of civil unions or domestic partnerships, could prevent courts from ruling on cases that arise between gay couples, and requires courts to ignore certain judicial decrees from other states. The brief also argues that Amendment One “would force voters to make an unconscionable choice among their views regarding various subjects.”

The brief was written by Scott Titshaw, an attorney with Arnall Golden Gregory LLP and Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been signed by 52 prominent law professors in Georgia, including Thomas C. Arthur, Dean of Emory University School of Law, and Anne Emmanuel, Associate Dean of Georgia State University College of Law. The professors come from every accredited law school in Georgia and many have served as law clerks for U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

“There are professors on this list who usually disagree with one another about almost everything, but who are in complete agreement that Amendment One is unconstitutional,” said Titshaw. “Amendment One is like a multiple choice question without the choice. The only choice is between ‘all of the above’ and ‘none of the above.'”

The ACLU said it filed the original lawsuit against the proposed amendment because it strongly opposes both the vague language used to describe the amendment on the ballot, which the organization called disingenuous and unconstitutional, as well as the amendment itself.

“This amendment would write discrimination into the constitution, and ensure unequal treatment against a minority population,” Littrell said. “The ACLU believes that the Georgia Constitution should be preserved as a shield for liberty, not be used as a sword for bigotry.”

For more information on the lawsuit, go to: /node/9591

The professors who signed onto the amicus brief are:

Thirteen Legal Scholars from Emory University School of Law: Thomas C. Arthur, Dean of Emory University School of Law; and professors Robert Schapiro; Martha Albertson Fineman; Michael J. Perry; Marc Miller; Kay L. Levine; Anne M. Rector; Frank Alexander; Bill Buzbee; Beth Edmondson; Jannette Pratt; William Kitchens and Michael Kang.

Twelve Legal Scholars from Mercer University Law School: Richard Creswell; David G. Oedel; Donal C. Wells; John O. Cole; David Brennan; David Hricik; Daryl Dantzler; Suzanne Cassidy; Linda Jellum; Linda Edwards; and Jack Sammons.

Eighteen Legal Scholars from the University of Georgia School of Law: Paul Kurtz; Peter J. Spiro; Peter A. Appel; Russell C. Gabriel; Gabriel Wilner; Julian McDonnell; Alexander W. Scherr; Sarajane N. Love; Margaret V. Sachs; Kevin Jon Heller; Erica J. Hashimoto; Donald E. Wilkes, Jr.; Robert D. Brussack; Camilla E. Watson; Alan Watson; E. Ann Puckett; Milner S. Ball; and Paul J. Heald.

Ten Legal Scholars from Georgia State University College of Law: Anne Emmanuel, Associate Dean of Georgia State University College of Law; and professors Marjorie Girth; Colin Crawford; Andrea Curcio; Neil Kinkopf; B. Ellen Taylor; Eric J. Segall; Mary F. Radford; Ellen S. Podgor; and Patrick Wiseman.

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