“An ungiven self is an unfulfilled self”
– Philippine Supreme Court (1997)
It has been said that love is a ‘gentle and universal emotion.’ Ergo, I cannot see any reason to wait for valentines to write about the topic or any improriety to relate the same to the wisdom of our magistrates in the Supreme Court. After all, those great judges are presumed to be the wisest among the persons in the practice of law, hence, they should be well adept to relate to all of us the arguably most difficult to comprehend among all law... the ‘law of love.’
‘Love hurts’ is a common expression of people who underwent the crucible of pain in romance. The Honorable Supreme Court could not agree more, in the case of Libi versus Intermediate Appelate Court (1992), They said ‘one of the ironic verities of life, it has been said, is that sorrow is sometimes a touchstone of love.’
Truly we cannot blame an individual for taking too much pain. Besides, we cannot even blame him or her for giving an all out passion for a single person. The Supreme Court in Figueroa versus Barranco (1997) expressed the same sentiment in this wise: ‘we cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams.’ In an earlier case entitled Chua-Qua versus Clave (1990), the Supreme Court was even more romantic in saying: ‘If the two persons eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know.’
Like most romantics (and even hopeless romantics), the Supreme Court too believes that love is powerful, encompassing and a force to be reckoned with. In Padilla – Rumbaua versus Padilla (2009), they said ‘love happens to everyone. It is dubbed to be boundless as it goes beyond the expectations people tagged with it. In love, “age does matter.” People love in order to be secure that one will share his/her life with another and that he/she will not die alone. Individuals who are in love had the power to let love grow or let love die – it is a choice one had to face when love is not the love he/she expected.’
Aside from defining love, the Supreme Court too made a tip to married couples on how to keep the fire burning. In Chi Ming Tsoi versus Court of Appeals (1997) they said: ‘Marital union is a two-way process. An expressive interest in each other’s feelings at a time it is needed by the other can go a long way in deepening the marital relationship. Marriage is definetely not for children but for two consenting adults who view the relationship with love amor gignit amorem, respect, sacrifice and continuing commitment to compromise, conscious of its value as a sublime social institution.’
But love is not always a happy ending. We cannot turn a blind eye to broken homes and loveless marriages. The Supreme Court too acknowledges the said reality, in the case of People of the Philippines versus Takbobo (1993) they said: ‘The nuptial vows which solemnly intone the matrimonial promise of love for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, are sometimes easier said than done, for many a marital union figuratively ends on the reefs of matrimonial shoals.’ In Antonio versus Reyes (2006), the Supreme Court pronounced their dissapointment to the sad reality by saying: ‘ statistics never lie, but lovers often do, quipped a sage. This sad truth has unsettled many a love transformed into matrimony. Any sort of deception between spouses, no matter the gravity, is always disquieting.’
It is not only the Philippine Supreme Court who expresses thoughts on love in their wise decisions. The United States Supreme Court too has their share of quotable love quotes, to cite a few there is the old case of Maynard versus Hill (1888) wherein the U.S. Supreme Court said that Marriage is ‘the most important relation in life’ and ‘the foundation of the family and society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.’
Another is the 1965 case of Griswold versus Connecticut, wherein they said that “we deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights – older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commerical or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.’
In 1967, the State of Virginia passed a law that prohibits marriage between persons of different race. The said law was questioned before the U.S. Supreme Court and hence the doctrine in the case of Loving versus Virginia (1967) was born: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the olderly puruit of happiness by free men.’
Upon survey of ‘love decisions’ of supreme courts in the internet both here and abroad. I have reached a thinking that the Philippine Supreme Court is probably the most romantic Supreme Court in the world.
The excerpts mentioned herein are but a fraction of the many instances that the High Court succumbed and acknowledged the law of love. To conclude, let me leave to you a quote by 6th century philospher Boethius: ‘who would give law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law.’
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.