Most Absurd Legal Motion Ever?

Phillip and Sandra Unruh of the great state of Kansas are might perturbed right about now. They’ve filed a motion to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit challenging that state’s ban on same-sex marriage on the absolutely bizarre grounds that their marriage is a “property” and that letting gay people get married somehow takes their property without due process or compensation. It sounds so stupid that you might think I’m making it up. I’m not.

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The husband here is an attorney and he is representing himself in the case. The old saying that an attorney who represents himself has an idiot for a client has never been more starkly on display.

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  • D. C. Sessions

    I’m impressed by an attorney who manages to misspell a commonly-used word in law, too.

    Yeah, spelling lame. But judges notice anyway, and maybe Ed had a reason for it being the first word he quoted.

  • dingojack

    When ‘teh ghay’ makes them get divorced, which one of them gets ‘the marriage’? Or will they be forced to sell it and split the proceeds?

    Dingo

  • eric

    So much fail. Athough I give them credit for saying in 13b what most SSM-opposers probably think, but are unwilling to say.

    The husband here is an attorney and he is representing himself in the case

    So it’s an own goal. That is somewhat of a relief. I was actually a bit worried that this was a laywer charging some ignorant couple legal fees to pursue an unwinnable case.

  • matty1

    I think they should extend this reasoning, if they own the word marriage it follows that no one else should be allowed to take it, not just gays – everyone. Congratulations Mr Unruh you’ve just made your own parents live in sin.

  • John Pieret

    The husband here is an attorney

    And he just joined the firm of Klayman, Staver and Taitz, LLC*.

    So he and his wife “purchased” the right to the word “marriage,” did they? No doubt they will be copy writing it and charging a fee to every other Kansan who, in the future, gets “married.”

    Well, at least the law secretaries will be having a good laugh!

    _________________________________________

    * Lame Legal Counterfeits

  • John Pieret

    Opps, “copyrighting” … good thing I didn’t spelling flame him on “principals” 😉

  • dingojack

    Who will he will ‘the marriage’ to when he dies? Can he use it as collateral for a loan? (And can they foreclose on it?)

    Enquiring minds — point and laugh.

    Dingo

  • D. C. Sessions

    Actually, John, on second reading maybe they’re also claiming to own “equality.” Thus, they are its principals.

  • Mike Morris

    Does Unruh give a speculative value for his marriage from which those evil gays will be deducting their fair share?

    Wonder if his wife’s idea of the value will decrease in proportion to the amount of moron mail and notoriety they receive?

  • bachalon

    Wait wait wait, if marriage is their property, why aren’t they suing other straight couples for the same reason?

    It almost seems like they have an ideological ax to grind rather than a legitimate and “principaled” grievance…

  • essbie

    It’s too bad no brilliant person thought of this argument back when women were trying to get the right to vote. Think of all those men who lost their property right to the title “voter.” Shameful, really. Maybe men should file a class-action reparations suit to try to get some compensation for their loss of their “property” as well…

  • Chiroptera

    Jesus! I wish that stupid was a finite resource; then the Tea Partiers would be close to using it all up and society can then proceed to advance much more quickly.

  • dingojack

    What’s the going monthly rental rate on a investment marriage, I wonder?

    Dingo

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    I’m not clear on how the relevant court cases aren’t due process, even if we accept the absurd premise that marriage is property.

  • eric

    What’s the going monthly rental rate on a investment marriage, I wonder?

    I dunno, but with Teh Geys in charge I plan on shorting MRG on the NYSE.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    dingojack @ # 2: When ‘teh ghay’ makes them get divorced, which one of them gets ‘the marriage’?

    Neither – ‘teh ghay’ breaks marriages up into small particles.

    Where do you think all that glitter comes from?

  • cottonnero

    “Ruh” is German for quiet, stillness, silence. The husband is aptly named.

  • roggg

    “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    At least it’s not the same boring, stupid arguments against SSM. It’s a bright, shiny, new stupid argument. Credit where credit is due.

  • dingojack

    Cottonnero — “How oft have you heard it told

    All that glisters is not gold”.

    Dingo

  • matty1

    The bad news is I’ve bought a 51% stake in the name Philip and will be taking action to stop this misuse of my property.

  • dingojack

    Matty — or do you prefer “‘Phi’ + a bit of an ‘l'”?

    :) Dingo

  • Loqi

    The problem isn’t gays, the problem is banks letting people get marriages with no money down and variable rate marriage interest rates. Yeah, a 30 year marriage at 2% APR sounds good *now*, but wait until next year when it’s costing you 18%. The marriage bubble is going to burst any day if this keeps up. Then you’re going to have foreclosed marriages everywhere.

  • chilidog99

    Come on, people. They invested in a marriage contract therefore they are entitled to their $15.00 marriage license fee back.

  • arakasi

    I am a citizen of the United States, therefore I am an American. (OK, OK, Canadians, would you prefer the term ‘USian’?)

    The extention of this term to cover the Unruhs is deeply disturbing to me. They have devalued this term by filing this motion, therefore, they have decreased the value of my property. Unlike the cases that the Unruhs mention, this was done without the due process of law

    I thereby require that the Unruhs cease referring to themselves as “Americans”, “humans”, “mammals”, or “vertebrates”

  • screechymonkey

    Loqi @23,

    I’m sure Wall Street is already working on bundling tranches of subprime marriages and selling them to naive investors.

  • Larry

    So divorce can be implemented as offering up one’s marriage onEbay to the highest bidder. Probably not going to be a whole lot of reserves put on those, no doubt.

  • eric

    subprime marriages

    Maybe what’s really bothering the fundies is that they think theirs might be in this category. Or maybe it’s just new model envy. “Dammit, I thought when I bought my straight marriage last year that a new model wouldn’t come out for at least a decade. Damn you, Gapple/Homosoft!”

    ***

    Most Absurd Legal Motion Ever?

    I’m not sure this tops “doing the macarena while approaching the bench.”

  • gridlore

    I see this lawyer attended Crazy Eddie’s Law School and Auto Detailing.

    Every legal usage of “property” that I’ve ever seen refers to a real thing of determinable value that can be transferred. My truck is property, my contract to write a story isn’t. The law treats marriage as a unique form of contract.

    Even beyond that, to support this claim they would have to show that allowing same-sex couples to marry would either take away their “property” or reduce it’s value. As nothing in the law revokes any existing marriages, option a is out. and any attempt to prove b would run into defining the exact monetary value of a marriage, and showing evidence that allowing SSM damages that value.

    I really hope that the judge who caught this has a sense of humor, and clerks who love crafting sledgehammer opinions. Because this filing deserves the full weight of disdain you only get from the Federal bench.

  • John Pieret

    Well, it seems the State of Kansas itself is vying for the coveted title of Most Absurd Legal Motion Ever:

    … a lawyer with the Kansas attorney general’s office argued that the Kansas Supreme Court had upheld the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a 2002 decision. He said that decision remains a controlling precedent throughout Kansas.

    Assistant Attorney General Steve Fabert said the federal judge was “obligated to give full faith and credit” to the Kansas decision, unless and until it is reversed by the Supreme Court and/or the Denver-based 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

    In Kansas’s brief to Crabtree, the state argues that it is not bound to follow the 10th Circuit’s lead.

    “The Kansas Supreme Court is constitutionally obligated to follow precedents of the United States Supreme Court, but not decisions of a federal circuit court of appeals particularly when, as here, there is contrary binding precedent on point,” Mr. Fabert wrote.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/1023/Why-Kansas-is-set-to-become-focus-of-same-sex-marriage-fight-video

    Ummm … no. The 14th Amendment, on which the 10th Circuit based its decision striking down similar bans takes precedent over state laws, constitutions and courts under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution contained in Article Six, Clause 2. As far as the Kansas ban and/or court decision is concerned, the District Court has the authority to find them in violation of the 14th Amendment and order that the state not enforce them any more. That is especially true when the Circuit Court where the District Court is located has already issued a binding ruling on the same issue, The state can request the District Court Judge, the 10th Circuit or SCOTUS for a stay pending an appeal (good luck with that) but Federal courts do not have to give “full faith and credit” to state court decisions that violate the Constitution.

    I’m not sure what the state is going for in saying that the state court decision has to be deferred to until SCOTUS or the Circuit Court overturn it but then saying that Kansas Supreme Court is not constitutionally obligated to follow Circuit court decisions. I suppose they are saying that, until there is a specific decision overturning the ban and state court decision, the state doesn’t have to voluntarily follow the logic of the 10th Circuit’s decision that only concerned other states’ bans, which is true. But that would be technically true of a Supreme Court decision as well.

    Without reading the entire brief I can’t be completely sure but it looks like much shouting and flailing of arms in service of delaying the inevitable.

  • Chiroptera

    I used to think you had to be kind of smart and know some stuff to be able to graduate from law school. Now I’m getting the impression that there is an entire generation when law schools practiced “social promotion.”

  • D. C. Sessions

    John Pieret@30:

    Say WHAT? Let me check. Yeah, still reads the same.

    That lawyer with the Kansas AG’s office must have serious ambitions in the Republican Party. That, or maybe practicing law while on angel dust, because no matter how lenient courts usually are with Rule 11, the Court must be sorely tempted to provide an educational illustration of just how far “whatever it takes to get the mule’s attention” goes.

    Isn’t this kind of thing the sort that you’re expected to know even before L1? Please tell me it’s not an advanced topic in ConLaw. Please?

  • grumpyoldfart

    They both know they are going to lose the case, but they have gained esteem among their fundamentalist peers – and that’s what they’re really after.

  • Nemo

    @ArtK #19:

    At least it’s not the same boring, stupid arguments against SSM. It’s a bright, shiny, new stupid argument.

    While the “property” wording may be new, the complaint about “changing the definition of marriage”, with the implication that it somehow devalues existing marriages, is very standard. And the focus on property seems typical of conservative thought in general, even if the application here is weird.

  • seashell

    in a super weird twisted way I see where they are coming from. If we use the traditional marriage arrangement where the father sells his daughter to the husband and the husband gets a woman to be forever subservient to him. If now 2 men (or 2 women) get married, who is to be the subservient property in that arrangement? But this only sort of works if it is just the man suing, because the wife is the “property” anyway. How that 2 people of the same sex will affect this couple’s marriage (if they so choose to be head and property) I don’t actually know – this is how far I got using “christian logic”

  • Michael Heath

    Chiroptera writes:

    I used to think you had to be kind of smart and know some stuff to be able to graduate from law school. Now I’m getting the impression that there is an entire generation when law schools practiced “social promotion.”

    I came up with a different conclusion decades ago when I attended college and then entered corporate America. I observed some people that were intelligent enough to pass their classes, but lacked the emotional intelligence to do so in a way that had them actually caring about what was being taught to them. So whatever they needed to know to pass a test was quickly forgotten. Even the deeper principles in play never took hold in a lasting manner.

  • John Pieret

    Chiroptera @ 31:

    I used to think you had to be kind of smart and know some stuff to be able to graduate from law school.

    Yeah, and Fabert graduated University of Kansas Law School, which I have no reason to suspect is like Regent or Liberty Law. But, sometimes, to do your job, you have to hold the pig down and put the lipstick on it.

    D. C. Sessions @ 32:

    no matter how lenient courts usually are with Rule 11, the Court must be sorely tempted to provide an educational illustration of just how far “whatever it takes to get the mule’s attention” goes.

    Pretty much, as long as you have a semblance of an argument, you’ll squeeze past Rule 11. The state is right that it can insist that there be a ruling by a “court of competent jurisdiction” overturning its ban and/or the State Supreme Court’s decision before it is required to follow the Circuit Court’s decision applicable only to other states. Its argument that the District Court should defer to the State Supreme Court is garbage but, I suspect, not quite such complete garbage as to draw a Rule 11 sanction. The Federal courts are required to defer to state court interpretation in many cases (mostly about the interpretation of state law) and will refer legal questions to a state supreme court for clarification. For example, if a state argued that its law didn’t, in fact, do what a plaintiff claimed was a constitutional violation, that issue could be referred to the state’s highest court for a definitive ruling on what the law actually does.

    But Federal courts never defer to state courts on questions of how to interpret the US Constitution.

  • John Pieret

    Michael Heath @ 36:

    people that were intelligent enough to pass their classes, but lacked the emotional intelligence to do so in a way that had them actually caring about what was being taught to them

    You are right about that and I can certainly attest that your experience in corporate America applies as well in the legal profession … if anything, in spades.

  • vereverum

    re seashell #35

    I think he’s got it! I think he’s got it!

    If two men get married then there is no property which leads us to that you can have a marriage without property. She may therefore declare herself notproperty, since that is no longer a requirement of marriage, and thus escape mandatory subservience. In this view, they, due to the one flesh doctrine, have lost property. There are many cases in which one of the litigants is property of some sort or another so they both being in the filing is not too far afield.

    Or not.

  • dingojack

    I wonder if this ‘lawyer’ (I use the term in the loosest manner) insists that his wife only get 3/5 of a vote?

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    Coming to a state near you — The Fugitive Wife Act.

    @@

    Dingo

  • D. C. Sessions

    Wait — doesn’t the “wife as property” interpretation mean that according to the 13th Amendment, all marriage is unConstitutional?

  • John Pieret

    Wait — doesn’t the “wife as property” interpretation mean that according to the 13th Amendment, all marriage is unConstitutional?

    Not according to Justice Scalia:

    [Interviewer]: In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

    [Scalia]: Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box.

    http://www.callawyer.com/Clstory.cfm?eid=913358

    Somehow, that doesn’t apply to handguns. Even though the 14th Amendment’s use of the word “people” doesn’t apply to women, the 2nd Amendment’s use of the word “arms” does apply to revolvers and automatic pistols, even though, at the time of the 2nd Amendment nobody was thinking of anything but muzzle-loading black powder muskets, pistols and cannon. Scalia somehow found a right under the 2nd Amendment to own cartridge-firing revolvers and automatic pistols.