Deboer v. Snyder Day 5 – Update 3

The AG then started its defense witnesses.  The first witness was Sherif Girgis who has a BA in philosophy from Princeton, and an MA in philosophy.  He is currently working on a PhD in philosophy at Princeton and a law degree at Yale.  He cited several panels he has participated in, prizes and awards he has won and law review articles he has authored.  He wrote a book called What is Marriage, Man, Woman and the Law.  This book explores the conjugal and revisionists view of marriage.  He is of the opinion that the conjugal view is the more “cogent” view.

He was a keynote speaker for a Federalist Society conference and participated at a panel at a Heritage Foundation function.  He is a frequent panelist, debater and guest lecturer at several Universities, including MSU, Wayne, Oxford, Stanford University and Hillsdale College.   He stated that, if qualified as a witness, he plans to offer that 1) the ways that the laws are changing in Michigan might undermine social goals; and 2) Reasons, apart from religion or animus to promote male-female bonds for their distinctive social values.  He planned to explain these concepts through philosophical principals and the history of philosophy.

The attorney for Plaintiff then was given a chance to question him about his background to see if he met the test to be an expert in a Federal trial (Daubert test).  He stated that he had never been an expert witness, that indeed he was still a student and that his exams are graded by others to determine if he passed or failed knowledge of the material, that his is not a member of the bar in any state, that he is not eligible for bar membership in any state, that he has not written any peer reviewed articles, that his is not a historian, an expert on Michigan law, a sociologist, a child development specialist, and to date, he has not taken any course in marriage or family law at law school.  Plaintiffs’ attorney objected to him being qualified as an expert both on the grounds that his background is not in any area relevant to Michigan law and the rational basis for the marriage ban claimed by the AG.  That if Michigan law required a conjugal relationship as a basis of marriage, that his testimony might be relevant, but it does not require such a relationship and the State cannot make such a requirement under the Constitution.  He further argued that philosophy is not a science, and that it can’t be tested and proved.

AG responded that his testimony relates to the State’s justification for restricting marriage; i.e., procreative relationships.

The Judge ruled that there are two tests under Daubert, one being the qualifications of the person offered as an expert, and that the testimony will help the Court determine evidence or facts in this case.  He ruled that, while someday Mr. Girgis would likely make a fine expert witness, at this time he does not have the background or experience that would help the Judge determine evidence or facts in this case.  Plaintiff’s objection was sustained, and the witness was dismissed.


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