The act was introduced in the House of Representatives in November of last year. But it remained dormant while conservatives waited to see how the amendment banning gay marriage played out. With its rejection last month, the act's principal sponsor in the House, Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, has now resurrected House bill 4379, known as the We the People Act. According to Representative Paul, the act is needed because, "The only way to resolve controversial social issues like abortion and school prayer is to restore respect for state and local governments to adopt policies that reflect the beliefs of the citizens of those jurisdictions."
Congressman Paul shares the delusional belief of many conservatives that federal judges are undermining democracy by imposing their preferences on state and local governments, especially regarding issues of sexual orientation. In an effort to counter this presumed threat, the We the People Act declares that, "The Supreme Court of the United States and each Federal court shall not adjudicate any claim...related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation or reproduction." This would essentially allow state legislatures to have immunity from the Constitution when they pass laws regarding sexual orientation. And for all practical purposes, gays and lesbians would loose their constitutional rights.
Evangelicals believe this act is needed to prevent the federal courts from continuing to strike down state laws discriminating against gays and lesbians. They point to the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas as a prime example of activist federal judges who are imposing liberal jurisprudence on state laws. Lawrence v. Texas dealt with two adult men who were arrested for having consensual sex in the privacy of their home. Both men were convicted of violating Texas' sodomy laws. But in 2003, in a six to three ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws affecting consensual adults were unconstitutional.
TVC has a long history of homophobia. A book written by Reverend Shelton entitled The Agenda amounts to a laundry list of old urban myths surrounding homosexuality. The book claims that homosexual activists are attempting to recruit children, undermine traditional marriage, and criminalize any public criticism of homosexual conduct. And it warns that, "The homosexual agenda is an attack on everything our Founding Fathers hoped to give us."
While it's troubling that the We the People Act would usurp the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians, the act is actually far more dangerous. It stipulates that the federal courts may not issue any ruling that "interferes" with state legislatures or courts. In effect, the federal courts would be prohibited from ruling on state laws and legal decisions made by state courts. A state's supreme court would have complete and total legal authority, without regard to the federal courts.
Congressman Paul has indicated that he intends for Congress to vote on the act by the end of summer. Given the upcoming election, it's likely that conservative Republicans will use this to rally their base. The GOP seems all too willing lately to trample the constitution as a get-out-the-vote maneuver. Perhaps the name of bill should be changed to the "We the (Evangelical) People Act."