LOFTON V. DEP'T OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SVCS. (2004)
(Gay Adoption/States' Rights)
|Several people filed suit against the State of Florida, challenging their law that forbids practicing homosexuals from adopting children. They claimed that such a law was an unconstitutional infringement of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and also cited the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Texas' anti-sodomy law. The U.S. District Court in Florida granted summary judgment to the state, and the plaintiffs appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the circuit court, ruling that Florida's law was not unconstitutional.
What is particularly refreshing about this decision is the restraint shown by the Appeals Court justices. In an age where the federal judiciary is frequently overstepping its constitutional bounds in an activist attempt to "legislate from the bench," the 11th Circuit rightly construed their authority under the law.
Judge Birch, writing the decision, held that while becoming parents through the act of childbirth is a natural process, adoption of a child is a legal process and should be construed as a legal priviledge as opposed to a constitutional right. Therefore, the state is allowed to develop laws that address moral qualification for adopting children. In the conclusion, Judge Birch aptly states the limited role the federal judiciary has in overruling the laws of the states:
"The State of Florida has made the determination that it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who 'engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity,' Cox, 627 So. 2d at 1215, and we have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment. Thus, any argument that the Florida legislature was misguided in its decision is one of legislative policy, not constitutional law. The legislature is the proper forum for this debate, and we do not sit as a superlegislature 'to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus.' Thomasson v. Perry, 80 F.3d 915, 923 (4th Cir. 1996)."
Contender Ministries applauds the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for showing judicial restraint, as opposed to judicial activism.
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