Federal judge questions critics of same-sex marriage decision

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 9, 2014 1:15 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The federal judge whose ruling legalized same sex marriage in Pennsylvania is taking on criticism of the decision.

Speaking on WITF's Smart Talk, Federal District Judge John Jones III questions those who argue he made the wrong decision on May 20th.

Jones says he used precedent, as judges do, especially related to groups that have long faced discrimination.

And for those who call the Bush appointee an activist judge, as the Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman did after the ruling, he says that's just a tired phrase.

"As I'm fond of saying and quoting, former justice Sandra O'Connor, who happens to be an acquaintance of mine, has said, and I think this is a most cogent statement, that an activist judge is simply a judge with whom you disagree. That's as perfect as it gets for me."

Jones says the decision wasn't hard, the difficult part was writing a decision the average person could understand.

He says he didn't allow personal opinion to inform the foundation of his decision. He acknowledges he wanted to put a capstone on the decision, which may explain the closing line the law should be sent to the ash heap of history.

Says Jones, of the critics: "Those same lawyers, I know, have asked single judges to make decisions in areas that have been important to them, and perhaps have won those cases, and are totally happy to have a judge make a call on the United States Constitution or a provision thereof."

This is the second controversial ruling Jones has handed down; he also presided over a 2005 case dealing with teaching intelligent design in public schools in Dover, York County.

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