Now A Judge Is Punishing Innocent Citizens Because He Doesn’t Like Gay Marriage

atherton

Meet Hamilton County (Tennessee) Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton, a local judge who is throwing a high-profile tantrum to show that he doesn’t agree with the U. S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision. Atherton denied a divorce petition last week, but not really because of the case at hand.. After hearing from seven witnesses and going through 77 exhibits, he rejected the requested divorce by Thomas Bumgardner and his wife, Pamela, stating that the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring gay marriages a right destroyed Tennessee’s ability to determine what constitutes marriage or divorce.

No, it doesn’t make sense.

 

Atherton said the Supreme Court must clarify “when a marriage is no longer a marriage”  and until it does, Tennessee courts are unable to handle  marriage and divorce litigation.  “The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces,” Atherton wrote.

 Or the short version: “I am an asshole with power!”

This is unfair to all couples who won’t be able to get on with their lives until the judge is forced to do his job or removed from the bench.  The judge is using the sham of a legal opinion to mask what is pure political grandstanding, though he is not fooling anyone.

Penny White, a former member of the Tennessee Supreme Court and now a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, says the judge doesn’t have a judicial leg to stand on. “State court judges, regardless of their personal points of view, must defer to the Supreme Court’s constitutional interpretation.”

Well, yes, that’s the idea. Unfortunately, unethical, law-flaunting judges are even harder to get rid of than unethical, law-flaunting law clerks.

However, when they are ready to discipline this jerk-in-a-robe, these are the provisions of the Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct that judge Atherton has nicked, breached or is simply pretending don’t exist:

RULE 1.1 Compliance with the Law
 
A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.
 
RULE 1.2 Promoting Confidence in the Judiciary
 
A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

 

RULE 1.3 Avoiding Abuse of the Prestige of Judicial Office
 
A judge shall not abuse the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so.

RULE 2.2 Impartiality and Fairness

A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

RULE 2.3 Bias, Prejudice, and Harassment

(A) A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office, including administrative duties, without bias or prejudice.

(B) A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, including but not limited to bias, prejudice, or harassment based upon race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation, and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.

Rule 2.5 Competence, Diligence, and Cooperation

(A) A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties competently, promptly and diligently.

Rule 2.7 Responsibility to Decide

A judge shall hear and decide matters assigned to the judge, except when disqualification is required by RJC 2.11 or other law.

Rule 2.11 Disqualification

(A) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

Addendum: More from the judge’s opinion:

“The majority’s opinion in Obergefell, regardless of its patronizing and condescending verbiage, is now the law of the land, accurately described by Justice Scalia as ‘a naked claim to legislative — indeed, super-legislative — power….The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces… [A]ccording to Justice Scalia, the majority opinion in Obergefell represents ‘social transformation without representation.’Although this Court has some vague familiarity with the government theories of democracy, republicanism, socialism, communism, fascism, theocracy, and even despotism, implementation of this apparently new ‘super-federal-judicial’ form of benign and benevolent government, termed ‘krytocracy’ by some and ‘judi-idiocracy’ by others, with its iron fist and limp wrist, represents quite a challenge for a state level trial court.”

“Limp wrist,” eh? Sure, no  bigotry there, just dispassionate, objective legal analysis!

Says Ann Althouse: “If following Supreme Court precedent is too much of a “challenge” for you, resign.”

30 thoughts on “Now A Judge Is Punishing Innocent Citizens Because He Doesn’t Like Gay Marriage

  1. As a side note, I always thought the domestic relations bar was a big supporter of gay marriage. And the answer to the question “what comes next after gay marriage?” isn’t “people marrying animals or their children or multiple spouses,”

  2. This is in the county just west of me, and it is of course a hot topic of conversation in the legal community. Not defending Chancellor Atherton’s actions AT ALL, but one news report added, “…Chancellor Atherton stated the evidence presented was ‘mixed at best’ and added they did not prove ‘inappropriate marital conduct by a preponderance of the evidence.’ ” So his statements re the Supreme Court decision were perhaps really his personal grandstanding commentary and actually not the sole justification for denying the divorce. He must have known that any ruling based solely on this oblique personal opinion would not stand. He did instruct the parties to refile their divorce case if they had better proof. (If this is the chosen course, it would seem prudent to refile anew in Circuit Court rather than Chancery Court, if possible.) I expect efforts to censure him through the Court of the Judiciary are already in progress.

    , “

    • I have little doubt that this is true, but his statement about no divorces being possible taints the decision beyond repair. It’s really stunning that he wouldn’t recognize this as massive judicial misconduct.

  3. I know this doesn’t really parallel, because the question was whether states could discriminate or not in the case of gay marriage, and not to the question of gay marriage in particular, but just as a learning moment, is there an argument that if SCOTUS weighs in on an issue that has historically been the place of the States to decide that judges could legitimately seek clarification before ruling on related issues? For instance, if SCOTUS had specifically required gay marriage as opposed to requiring the states not discriminate based on sexual orientation, would this judge have a leg to stand on?

    • No, he wouldn’t. There is no pending case challenging the state’s divorce law causing him to wait until the issue is settled before proceeding to grant divorces. If he were to issue an opinion declaring the divorce law unconstitutional (and state the reasons for his ruling) and then refused to issue any divorces, he would be nutty and completely wrong, but not derelict in his duty. That decision could then be appealed to a higher court which would most likely overrule him immediately and order divorces to proceed. But he didn’t do that. He simply stated his own confusion about the law and said he wouldn’t act because he doesn’t know what the proper course of action is. If that were to happen in any other type of case, the supervising judge would presumably remove him from divorce court while he got schooled in family law and/or he would be subject to whatever judicial competence procedures they have in Tennessee. People who don’t understand the law should not be judges.

  4. You’re way out on a limb here, Jack. Just because a state judge dares to name the majority of the Supreme Court members a pack of idiots or worse (and they ARE worse) doesn’t make him the idiot. When a court seeks to mangle the established legal traditions of a nation’s entire history on such a basic level and on such dubious legal grounds, its the duty of every judge who’s true to his office and responsibilities to stand up and say so.

    • Hardly. First, its professional misconduct for judges to impugn the Supreme Court, but he didn’t do that. He’s an idiot because he made an idiotic argument to grandstand. The decision didn’t have any bearing on his ability to adjudicate a divorce, and he knew it. He made a fool of himself and a travesty of the law, and will probably be censured.

      Idiot.

      • It seems to me that he made a valid point. If marriage isn’t marriage anymore, then how, indeed, does that pertain to divorce? I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t claim to be able to judge these arguments from a legalistic perspective. Perhaps that’s just as well!

        • He made a specious point, that is gratuitous whining. Marriage for the couple he was divorcing is exactly the same as it ever was…they are only in an opposite sex marriage. Does letting 18 year olds vote change voting? Does letting ex-convicts own guns change gun ownership? Your argument on this point is fantastic. Bill and Hillary’s weird marriage doesn’t affect mine one bit. The gay marriage destroys marriage trope is just fearmongering with no anchor in reality. Go ahead—how does it destroy marriage? Stipulated: expanding access is not destruction.

          • I’d first reiterate that there is no historically valid marriage other than a “opposite sex” marriage. Letting 18 year old kids vote changes quite a bit beyond the basic mechanics of the election; something that has to be considered when you understand that this was a political sop by the Left to gather in a vote from young people who haven’t had the time to shake off their public school indoctrination. Letting ex-convicts without a pardon vote and/or legally own weapons- the right of a citizen but not of a felon- DOES change the equation in a number of ways. So does tearing down the basic institution of marriage to the point where it becomes a mere license for sex… or any deviant facsimile. Degradation, Jack… not “expanding access”.

            • “So does tearing down the basic institution of marriage to the point where it becomes a mere license for sex…”

              Are you under the impression that the gay marriage ruling made marriage a “license for sex?”

              • I’m saying that by equating homosexual liaisons to traditional marriage, you subtract everything from marriage that is noble and godly. A “license for sex” is only part of it. Beyond even the degradation and the political advantages are the adoptions of innocent children into these non-families and the inherent dangers to their bodies and minds this entails. For that reason alone, “gay marriage” is a crime against nature.

                I’m sure I have a lot more messages on this thread. I’ll get to them when I can.

                • I’m saying that by equating homosexual liaisons to traditional marriage, you subtract everything from marriage that is noble and godly.

                  ERROR 1. Same sex marriage is about love, not sex. It equates love with love.
                  ERROR 2. Homosexual “liaisons’ are the equivilent or heterosexual liassons. They may even involve the same sex acts.
                  ERROR 3. There are an amazing variety of “traditional marriages” The marriage of Bill and Hillary has less in common with my parents’ marriage than my parents’ marriage had with, for example, Raymond Burr and his longtime companion, or my late friend Allen Reed and his longtime partner.
                  ERROR 4: There is nothing inherently noble or godly about civil marriage, so gay marriage cannot remove those qualities.

                  • 1. Homosexuality is defined by perverse sexuality. Not love. They are, by their very nature, inhibited from any real understanding of the term.

                    2. Heterosexual liaisons are just that. They are not marriage. Neither are homosexual ones.

                    3. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of the Clintons’ marriage being set up as a paragon of virtue! And how does Raymond Burr even compare with them at their worst? Marriage is as good as the couple’s willingness to uphold the vows they take before God.

                    4. There would be no civil marriage if the founding Christian principles of the nation hadn’t ordained it as an institution.

                    • There’s a line in 12 Angry Men that comes to mind. “You believe what you want to believe, and what you don’t want to believe, you don’t! What kind of way is that?”

                      The answer is “a wrong way.”

                    • Am I the one who “wants to believe” that two people of the same sex who want to fornicate with each other in denial of nature is grounds for an equally depraved version of “marriage”? Jack; I’d suggest that you’re too taken with the propaganda drumbeat behind this (until recently) unbelievable concept. It’s not a matter of my having some blind “belief” in anything. It’s a matter of stark reality.

                      BTW: Had I been a juror in that scenario, Henry Fonda’s character wouldn’t have had anything to do. I’m a trained investigator, Jack. Discerning fact from fiction on a basis of not only training, but experience and reason, is something I’m used to doing. That’s why I find these pro-pervert arguments I’m seeing slightly incredible.

                    • 1. Prove it.
                      2. Prove it.
                      3. Vows before God have nothing to do with civil marriage.
                      4. Marriage predates Christianity by a few thousand years.

                    • 1. Self-evident. You’re in denial.
                      2. Prove that?! Idiot.
                      3. As I explained, without the Christian institution of marriage, there would be no civil marriage to begin with.
                      4. Probably by longer than that. There were probably mating rituals well back in prehistory that where the first stirrings of a formal bonding. How is that relevant here?

                • SMP: “I’m saying that by equating homosexual liaisons to traditional marriage, you subtract everything from marriage that is noble and godly.”

                  The law has no interest in what you think is or is not “godly,” theocrat.

                  “Beyond even the degradation and the political advantages are the adoptions of innocent children into these non-families and the inherent dangers to their bodies and minds this entails.”

                  Nobody has ever proven that same-sex adoption correlates with “inherent dangers to the bodies and minds” of children. You’ve merely asserted this, over and over again, as if it is accepted fact.

                  Do you have any interest in getting others to accept this premise, or do you simply enjoy the false sense of superiority you get from repeating it on this blog at every opportunity?

                  • Perhaps nothing uplifting means much to you or those in your circles, Chris. But elsewhere, it means a great deal. It certainly did to the mean who crafted the Constitution that you would see profaned or the society you would ordain be dragged into the dirt. As to those inherent dangers I spoke of, you’d have to be in a state of utter denial to say otherwise. Time and again, the reports come in of children who’ve been “adopted” by deviant couples and sexually abused. One of the worst cases happened just a few days ago. Homosexual couple. NINE children. All sexually abused. Even if they avoid abuse, what does it do to a child’s mind and spirit to be raised in such an environment by such people? Sexual perversion is both evil and insane. Putting children in the hands of perverts is even more evil and insane.

                    • Please show me the evidence that children raised by same-sex couples are any more likely to be abused than children raised by opposite-sex couples. Right now, you’ve provided exactly one anecdote of sexual abuse by a same-sex couple as your evidence. That is pathetic. No reasonable person would read your comment and be convinced that we should not let same-sex couples raise children. Provide evidence for your claims.

                    • What you’re doing now is to revert to the old dodge of making this a homosexual vs. heterosexual issue. It’s not. it’s a matter of pervert vs. normal.

                      For example, some years ago, an FBI internet sting reeled in an assistant federal prosecutor on a child sex solicitation. The lowlife actually flew up to Chicago from Pensacola. He was arrested right off the plane at O’Hare. He even had a teddy bear for his intended (and non-existent) victim. He was married with two children! But he was a deadly pervert in his double life. As a footnote, he committed suicide in prison… probably to everyone’s relief.

                      Today, though, guys like this don’t even have to hide it much. With the federal courts having thrown open the floodgates, perverts of any degree or persuasion can have their condition legitimized and can adopt innocent children. And in the wake of this- as predicted by many of us- the underground (and attendant) movement to legitimize pedophilia is emerging again. Few remember that, in the early 1950’s, when Alfred Kinsey and his staff of deviant “researchers” started the pervert movement, one of their cohorts was the notorious Harry Hays, who went on to found NAMBLA.

                      There’s the point for you and I’ll say this again; where one form of perversion exist, all potentially exist. Run down the list of prominent ones and you’ll find that the bulk of them, besides the usual fearsome activities between adults, have had “affairs” with minors… to often include preteen children. Once this insane self-degradation takes hold, there are no boundaries and no higher aspiration than to follow one’s evil sexual fantasies to ever greater heights of outrage. There used to be laws in place to protect children from the physical and mental harm that these creatures inevitably extend through their very nature. Now there are few and legal authorities are inhibited in enforcing them.

                      Do abusive non-deviant (or semi-deviant) parents exist? Certainly. I was raised in one, okay? I won’t go into details. Just understand that I and my two siblings vowed to ourselves that this sort of thing would not devolve on us, as it tends to extend itself to the next generation. This is what I mean in main by the mental effects of perversion and abuse of all sorts. As the eldest by five years, I dealt with the brunt of it, too. And it DID leave emotional scars that I took steps to deal with.

                      IT DID NOT EXTEND TO US. But no child should have to face it. True, there is no way to eliminate it entirely and maintain a free society based on a nuclear family. Like prostitution and perversion itself, it’s a disease that will never likely be conquered completely. But it must not be abetted by legitimizing it. Crimes against children are the most evil of all, as they negate the very spirit that places mankind above the animal kingdom. Thus, I oppose this evil in all its manifestations. Yes, there is a personal factor for me. But as a man who aspires to decency, I could do no less in any case.

                    • “There’s the point for you and I’ll say this again; where one form of perversion exist, all potentially exist.”

                      OK. Now all you have to do is explain why homosexuality is a perversion.

                      Remember, you can’t fail if you don’t try.

                    • That may be the stupidest question I’ve ever been asked in my life! If two members of the same sex are sexually attracted to one another, requiring one of them to assume the identity of a sex he or she is manifestly not, and engage in depraved…oh, hell! What am I bothering with you for?! Perversion is virtually defined by acts of this nature. To ask that idiot question defines YOU, Chris; either as a clueless minion of the Left or as a deceitful propagandist. Good God.

                    • “If two members of the same sex are sexually attracted to one another, requiring one of them to assume the identity of a sex he or she is manifestly not”

                      The hell? Homosexual sex does not require anyone to “assume the identity of a sex he or she is manifestly not.” You are spouting gibberish.

                      “To ask that idiot question defines YOU, Chris; either as a clueless minion of the Left or as a deceitful propagandist. Good God.”

                      Really? Jack doesn’t think homosexuality is perverted either; is he a “clueless minion of the Left” too?

                      That you are offended by even being asked to explain your illogical beliefs regarding homosexuality is hilarious. You cannot accept that your beliefs are no longer the mainstream, and you don’t think you need to justify them to anyone. Guess what? You do. You don’t get to oppress people without a pretty damn good reason. Shouting “Pervert! Pervert! Pervert!” doesn’t cut it anymore.

                      You can’t explain your position, because you don’t have any logical reasons for it. It’s pure, ignorant, reasonless hatred.

                    • I could practically hear you screaming from here, Chris! Now look back calmly on what you’ve just written (if you’re able) and acquire an understanding as to why hate and illogic fall squarely on your shoulders and not mine. I don’t make opinions based on ignorance or emotion; that being a facet of the Left. Nor does a massive propaganda campaign by that movement equate it with the “mainstream”. I might remind you that the deviant agenda has been voted down by plebiscite again and again… including twice in California. Corrupt judges- making law from the bench- along with equally corrupt media people and academics, are the source of your claims in this regard. They, however, are not America. Neither are you.

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