How embarrassing

We all make mistakes. They occur in our scholarly endeavours; our vocations; our social interactions, etc. Most go noticed by only a few and rarely draw notoriety to our intellectual missteps, but when they occur among the prominent, the powerful, and the professional… the results can be embarrassing and infamous.

Below is a civil Court Order from the Court for the Eastern District of the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia [2:13cv395], dated 13 February 2014. To paraphrase it, two same sex couples are challenging the Commonwealth of Virginia’s laws concerning marriage as to the constitutionality of their restriction being limited to male/female marriages. The Federal District Court Judge, Arenda L. Wright Allen, is the signatory judicial officer making the ruling of declaring unconstitutional and overturning Virginia’s existing marriage laws.

The ruling is 41 pages in length, but if one looks specifically at page 2, paragraph 1 – entitled Opinion and Order, line 4; the Judge as quoted here, gets her basic legal citation and documents horribly wrong…

As quoted from the text: “”Our Constitution declares that “..all men are created equal”…”.
If this seems out of place, you are most assuredly correct in your belief. It is in the Declaration of Independence [paragraph 2, sentence 1]. No where in the Constitution of the United States of America does such a phrase appear.

Had this appeared in a routine Dissolution of Marriage order, the average injury tort action, or other lesser profile order by a court, it would have hardly drawn more than a wry smile from its readers. Sadly, with an order of this magnitude, the Honorable Wright Allen humorously botched it on the national stage.

Go forth and author your academic tomes for the semester secure in the knowledge that even the professionals are sometimes in error [and in need of Doctor Kirkpatrick].





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1 Response to How embarrassing

  1. Harmon Gale says:

    Judge Allen might be one of those legal minds who believe the Declaration of Independence is actually part of the Constitution. But there is little legal precedent for that line of argument. The language of the declaration has been invoked by abolitionists and suffragettes and now marriage equality activists.

    That said, the Declaration is still incredibly important to Americans as a manifesto if not a binding legal document. What the Declaration says about slavery, for example, was a point of contention in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

    Wikipedia has an interesting section on how the Declaration has been invoked throughout our history.

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