Celebrating Constitution Day

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September 17, 2013

Today, the U.S. Constitution turns 226 years old. We have a great deal to celebrate, but quite a bit of work remaining if we hope to extend the Constitution’s guarantee of liberty and equality to all.

In addition to honoring our nation’s governing document on Constitution Day, we should also take time to appreciate the unique role of the judiciary in interpreting the principles embedded in our Constitution and upholding them.

The concept of judicial review  that “[i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is” — was defined by the Supreme Court case of Marbury v Madison that upheld the power of federal courts to void acts of Congress that conflict with the Constitution.

The fight for equality has come a long way, but the struggle for full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and people with HIV continues. In the coming years, our nation’s federal courts will issue decisions on a number of key issues that significantly impact the LGBT community. Therefore, ensuring that federal judges are fair-minded and approach decisions without bias is of upmost importance to our system of justice and the individuals who our legal system has the highest obligation to protect.

But our federal courts are under attack and the victims are the American people. The escalating political assaults on the judiciary and unprecedented obstruction in the Senate of qualified judicial nominees have given rise to a judicial vacancy crisis that threatens the very foundation of our democracy. It has become commonplace for Senators to delay votes on even the most noncontroversial nominees, politicizing the confirmation process and impeding the administration of justice.

Federal courts matter to the LGBT community. We must care about the courts if we care about our rights, our families, our neighbors and our society.

Celebrate Constitution Day by taking action to protect our federal courts!