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Jindal, Legislature must act to support legal integrity

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell will make the right move in appealing the decision made by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that would impose New York law on Louisiana, and now it’s up to the Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal to back him up.

The case involves a couple of men who, according to New York law, legally could adopt a child, who was born in Louisiana. They requested a copy of his birth certificate to be out with their names as the “parents.” However, state law permits only a married couple, defined constitutionally as a man and a woman, or a single person may adopt, thus only one name could appear on the certificate in the view of the attorney general, whose office recommended that the Louisiana Supreme Court hear the case to determine whether by implication that the constitutional provision defining marriage and the law regarding adoption meant that only one name had to appear on the certificate.

The panel agreed with the lower district court decision that the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution decide in favor of allowing New York law to trump the implicit relationship in Louisiana law and indirectly in the Constitution, negating any need to have the Louisiana Supreme Court deal with the matter. That clause is interpreted to mean that states reciprocally honor laws from other states unless they explicitly conflict with an existing law in an area in which states are assumed to have express power as in this case regarding what is termed the general police power of states.

So Louisiana would strengthen its argument by passing a law that makes the linkage direct. State Rep. Jonathan Perry tried to do so last session, but after House passage Senate leaders kept the bill from moving forward until the end of the session when it was too late to overcome apparently sufficient opposition in the Senate. This additional clarity will either entice higher courts to deal with the constitutional question of the meaning of the full faith and credit clause instead of the procedural use of it, or to overturn lower court decisions altogether now satisfied Louisiana has the power to make the refusal.

Perry or another legislator needs to take the initiative to get a similar bill going again, and Jindal needs to give his explicit support for this kind of bill and make efforts to get it passed into law this time. Unfortunately, last year those in the Legislature who wanted to make this case into a political football as a backdoor attempt to chip away at the state’s same-sex Constitutional prohibition got away with using intellectually unsound and emotive arguments that did not convince the House but may have led to enough senators to feel they could prevent the bill from passing. Some resolute legislators and Jindal’s intervention can preserve the integrity of Louisiana's law and Constitution by preventing this allowance of their degradations from potentially occurring.

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