Some might call it a fee. Others might call it a tax. Jillian Jacobsen called it bull excrement and wanted the fee removed. More specifically, her complaint was that it was an unconstitutional tax on the fundamental right to marry, but we prefer the term bull excrement. It rolls off the tongue.
The allegedly unconstitutional tax was $5.00, reports the Courthouse News Service.
Now, you might be thinking, "Who in the wedding-bell-hell would sue over a $5 add-on to a $30 fee?" Well, lawsuits, and in this case, an appeal, aren't always about the amount in controversy. Often, it's a matter of principle and fear of a slippery slope.
The lower court previously rejected the challenge and the Illinois Appellate Court's Second District affirmed the decision earlier this month.
"We believe that the legislature's imposition of a small charge on marriage license applicants is reasonably related to the fund's narrow purpose of helping married victims of domestic violence leave violent marriages. As we find that the tax bears a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose, the plaintiff's due process claim fails."
That's a lot of legalese, but let's summarize it as this: the fund is used to help victims of marital domestic violence escape. The relationship and purpose of the fee has a connection to marriage in general, so we're not going to step on the lawmakers' toes and overturn such a reasonable non-burdensome fee.
Note that the decision limited the extent to which fees can be tacked on. If the legislature did slip down the proverbial slippery slope and started tacking on hundreds of dollars of fees for items only tangentially related to marriage, a court might overturn those taxes.
- Discuss Your Case With a Chicago Family Law Lawyer (FindLaw)
- Jacobsen v. King et al. (Second District Appellate Court)
- Law to Stop Exorbitant Child Custody Fees in the Works (FindLaw's Chicago Family Law Blog)
- Rational Basis Test (FindLaw's LawBrain)