[JURIST] Little more than two weeks after telling the Washington Post that he would not press the Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, President Bush has publicly reversed course in tonight's State of the Union Address:
Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.Conservative and Christian groups whose members powered Bush's victory in November had quickly expressed disappointment [Washington Post report] in the President's remarks to the Post and had pressed him to take a stronger stand [Financial Times report]. GOP Senators said last week they would reintroduce a Marriage Protection Amendment [JURIST report], which failed in the last Congress.
Here are some other law-related excerpts from the Address. On tort reform:
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims - and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.On reform of the tax code:
Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I have appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this Nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all.On immigration:
America's immigration system is also outdated - unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.On judicial nominations:
Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. As President, I have a constitutional responsibility to nominate men and women who understand the role of courts in our democracy, and are well qualified to serve on the bench - and I have done so. The Constitution also gives the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an up-or-down vote.On DNA evidence and wrongful convictions:
Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit - so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.On the Iraqi elections:
We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty - as they showed the world last Sunday. Across Iraq, often at great risk, millions of citizens went to the polls and elected 275 men and women to represent them in a new Transitional National Assembly. A young woman in Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, "hearing those explosions, it occurred to me - the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. ... So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together." Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of us all.The President is still speaking; the Los Angeles Times has a copy of his prepared text.
One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "we were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. ... Thank you to the American people who paid the cost ... but most of all to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country - and we are honored that she is with us tonight.
10:50 PM ET - The White House has now posted the official version of the President's 2005 State of the Union Address.