Three Campbell Law School professors argue that while Amendment One is not written as well as it could have been, courts are more likely to interpret it in a way that minimizes changes to the state’s family law.
Their report was written largely as a response to a paper by University of North Carolina Law School professor Maxine Eichner, who argued that the amendment’s effects could be broad and far-reaching.
The response, published on April 18 by Lynn R. Buzzard, William A. Woodruff and E. Gregory Wallace, says that, “While the apparent aim of the proposed Amendment could have been stated with greater clarity, we do not think its terms justify these concerns.”
In it, the three professors do not support or oppose Amendment One, saying that “there are thoughtful arguments on both sides.”
North Carolina courts, they argue, can infer the legislature’s intent in the amendment by looking at the language of other states’ amendments, which more clearly convey an intent to preclude unions closely approximating marriage for same-sex couples.
They also argue that North Carolina courts have sufficient guidance to interpret the term “union.”
“Black’s Law Dictionary defines marriage as the ‘[t]he legal union of a couple as spouses,’” they write. “Thus, in the context of the proposed Amendment, a ‘domestic legal union’ is a marriage or legal status resembling marriage.”