Friday, June 26, 2015

The Chief Justice skinks with the ship

The Supreme Court today held that gay marriage is a fundamental right that states cannot deny. Sadly, the Chief Justice and three other justices decided to sink with the Christian Right ship rather than affirm America's core value of equality.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, (Sup. Ct., June 26, 2015) and was joined by Justices Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Helen Kagan. Kennedy gave four reasons why gay marriage was a fundamental right (Slip Opinion, pp. 12-17). The bottom line is that the majority held that the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution "[do] not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex." (P. 27)

The dissenters were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- all conservative Roman Catholics.

This reminds me of the 1960 presidential election in which some voters worried that if John F. Kennedy were elected president, he would take orders from the Pope. Then senator, Kennedy responded to this concern in an address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960:

 I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
The Chief Justice, Scalia, Thomas and Alito obviously cannot say the same--for they voted to deny gays the right to marry just as the Catholic Church would want them to.

The Chief Justice sadly tells those who support the decision: "Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it." (P. 29)
This ridiculous statement is consistent with a justice who lacks fidelity to the Constitution, specifically its due process and equal protection clauses.

Like the seemingly unsinkable Titanic, the Christian Right has sunk.

As a final comment, Justice Alito worries that those who oppose gay marriage will be called bigots. He should be worried. Quite frankly, they are bigots because there is no rational basis for their discriminatory belief. Their religion is no excuse. But they are free to be wrong.

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