Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Judge John Jones discusses his same-sex marriage ruling

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 8, 2014 2:37 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, June 9, 2014:

Judge John Jones 300 x300.jpg

The court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania last month has been celebrated by some and criticized by others.

The federal judge who struck down Pennsylvania's law that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman as unconstitutional is no stranger to controversial decisions.

Judge John Jones III of the U.S. Middle District Court in Pennsylvania gained national attention for ruling the Dover, York County school board's attempt to add creationism to science classes was unconstitutional.

Neither case has been appealed because those who disagreed with the decisions could not find an error to challenge Judge Jones' rulings.

Judge John Jones appears on Monday's Smart Talk to explain his thinking and the basis for the same-sex marriage decision. 


Judge John Jones and Scott LaMar

It's unusual for a federal judge to grant media interviews but Judge Jones says he views conversations like those on Smart Talk as opportunities to educate the public about the judiciary.

Read the ruling here:

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  • John H. img 2014-06-09 08:17

    I find interesting this that many that claim that their opposition to it is because it redfines marriage. To me, divorce has done more to redefine marriage; According to the Bible marraige is to exist until death do they part. But society is much more accepting of this redefinition of marriage, than it is of same-sex marriage which is much closer to the definition.

    • John H. img 2014-06-09 08:17

      Sorry: should have an "it" between find and interesting

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-09 08:23

    Patrick emails:

    If the right to marry who one chooses is in the constitution, how can we justify laws against polygamy?
    (If you're taking questions)

  • Jim Foster img 2014-06-09 08:33

    Apparently you are not taking phone calls during the interview with Judge Jones. I'd appreciate if you would ask him this.

    How do you respond to the comment that in order for a Court to make a change to marriage this basic and which has been the same since our country was founded, we should have amended the Constitution? Can you honestly say that the founders who drafted the Constitution or the leaders who passed the post-Civil War amendments ever contemplated that their words would have been used to allow same sex marriage? Doesn't your decision amount to legislation from the bench?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-09 08:42

    Chet writes:

    Good Morning,

    Thanks for another great show! If possible, I would love to hear the judge's opinion on the following:

    Understanding that, according to our constitution, we are bestowed with rights from our Creator, and understanding that the "Creator" instituted marriage as being between a man and a woman, what business is it of the government to redefine marriage?

    I'm not saying that committed same sex couples should not be afforded the same privileges as opposite sex couples, but why must it be defined as marriage?

    Thanks again for the show today! I look forward to hearing the judge's opinion on this point.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-09 08:48

    Lisa asks:

    Do you think that the Defense of Marriage Act inadvertently caused this ruling to be handed down sooner than if there had been no Defense of Marriage Act?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-06-09 08:49

    Patrick asks:

    Judge Jones has stated that public opinion change did not factor into his ruling. Would he have been willing to take a stand on this issue 30 years ago if it meant going against public opinion?
    (Thank you)

  • Marlene Kanuck img 2014-06-09 09:26

    Thank you for asking Judge Jones to appear on your show and please pass on my thanks for his ruling. As I listened to the show I heard the questions which seem to always revolve around family and raising children. I was a single mom who came out when my son was four years old (before any comments - not to him - he found out when his dad said hateful words to him when he was 12). I raised him with my partner, who happened to be his principal, she took an interest in his education and taught him about sports. His father although a university professor never took an interest in either. My father, a Lutheran minister, became the male influence in his life.
    I once heard that children raised by same-sex couples were a social experimental "guinea pigs". My son is a successful contract attorney, attended F&M college (which his father would not financially help) and the law school. He also a Lieutenant Colonel (JAG) in the USAF. He served in Iraq as part of the US legal team advisors. He is married and he and his wife have given me two beautiful granddaughters. This is not a social experiment - it's a matter of raising children in a loving home giving them the foundation for a responsible life.

  • Jim Foster img 2014-06-10 08:47

    Judge Jones seems to be a very reasonable and thoughtful person. But, I think there is grave danger in his view of how to interpret the Constitution. He seems to feel that a judge can look beyond the plain meaning of the words in the Constitution and also use current standards and public opinion when interpreting it. That seems to be what he did when he ruled that a state law prohibiting same sex marriage in unconstitutional.

    The biggest problem with this view is that it subjects our most precious freedoms to the whims of an unelected judiciary. If you accept Judge Jones' view, why is it not possible for a less reasonable judge to eviscerate Constitutional freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, habeas corpus, etc. because he or she thinks our modern community standards require them to be reduced or eliminated. This view can result in the Constitution meaning whatever a particular judge thinks it means, not what the Founders or enactors of an amendment actually wrote or intended.

    I, for one, think that same sex marriage is a right whose time has come. But, we should not enact it by having unelected judges find ephemeral new meaning in our centuries old Constitution. We should do what the Framers intended: have the Legislature pass a law allowing same sex marriage. Sure, that's going to be hard. But, we've done hard things before. We fought a Civil War to eliminate the scourge of slavery. We went to Europe and the Pacific to fight an Axis that threatened to take over the world. We CAN do hard things.

    But I guess I am old fashioned.