Indiana University
Friday, October 16, 2009

The denial of a marriage license to an interracial couple by a Louisiana justice of the peace was unconstitutional, according to an Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor. According to news reports, the justice of the peace denied the couple’s marriage license application earlier this month due to concerns for their future children.

Professor Dan Conkle, the Robert H. McKinney Professor of Law and a constitutional law expert, said the incident should never have happened.

“It has been settled for more than 40 years that the Constitution protects interracial marriage,” Conkle said. “What’s more, in addressing a related question, the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically rejected the argument that judges can make child custody decisions on the basis of concerns like those articulated by the justice of the peace. In short, the denial of the marriage license to this couple was plainly and blatantly unconstitutional.”

Conkle teaches constitutional law, the First Amendment, and law and religion. His research addresses constitutional law and theory, religious liberty, and the role of religion in American law, politics and public life. He is the author of numerous articles, as well as a book titled Constitutional Law: The Religion Clauses (Foundation Press, 2003). He can be reached at (812) 855-4331 or by e-mail at