Bride Loses Fight Against Domestic Violence Fee

     (CN) – Illinois can apply part of its marriage license fee to help victims of domestic violence, a state appeals court ruled.



     The Illinois Legislature increased the state tax on a marriage license from $30 to $35 in 2008, earmarking the extra money for the Married Families Domestic Violence Fund.
     The fund provides grants to agencies that provide legal services for currently or formerly married victims of domestic violence.
     Jillian Jacobsen challenged the law in a class action after paying the $35 marriage license fee in 2009.
     Jacobsen contended that the fee was an unconstitutional tax on the fundamental right to marry, and that the relationship between a marriage license and domestic violence is too remote to justify the tax.
     State officials countered that the fund benefitted married people and that the fee was too small to impede the right to marry.
     The Du Page County Circuit Court ruled in the government officials’ favor, and the Illinois Appellate Court’s Elgin-based Second District affirmed 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,” Justice Mary Seminara-Schostok wrote for a three-member panel. “As we find that the tax bears a rational relationship to a legitimate legislative purpose, the plaintiff’s due process claim fails.”

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