The Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Bans, Scalia and Thomas Unleash Vitriol

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

As many people have long predicted, the Supreme Court ruled today, in a 5-4 vote, that states cannot ban same-sex marriage because doing so violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Shortly after the ruling was announced, President Obama addressed the nation from the White House rose garden.

"Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle, that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge those founding words with the reality of changing times," Obama said Friday.

"Progress on this journey often comes in small increments. Sometimes two steps forward, one step back," he said from the White House Rose Garden, ringed by hundreds of White House staffers. "And then sometimes there are days like this when that slow, steady effort leads to justice that arrives like a thunderbolt." [...]

Obama said the ruling was the "consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents. Of parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love."

Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion and while he made it abundantly clear that same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution, his opinion was much more than that.

Kennedy's majority opinion did not simply dispense state bans with legalese; it eloquently laid out the case for why gay couples should be treated equally.

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

In contrast, the dissenting judges, each of whom delivered their own dissents, shat all over the court room.

We've come to expect unbecoming temper tantrums from Justice Scalia, but when Justice Thomas weighs in it is truly a sight to behold.

Decrying the majority opinion that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment invalidates gay marriage bans, Thomas argued that the clause has been perverted to grant government entitlements (Thomas strongly implies that he believes gay marriage, and perhaps personal liberty itself, is an entitlement) and that gay marriage bans do not deprive gay couples of dignity. Because, well, read for yourself.

"The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away."

For his part, Scalia unleashed whatever hyperbolic monsters he could assemble.

"The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality,'" he quoted from the majority opinion before adding, "Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie." [...]

"And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation," he writes. "But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch."

Apparently, a "putsch" is an attempt to violently overthrow the government.

Is that what has happened here today?

ThinkProgress has assembled a greatest-hits list of completely unhinged lines from the various dissents.

  • waspuppet

    What strikes me most about both of Scalia’s dissents in the past two days is the almost complete lack of – you know, legal argument. Guy’s been on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years and I’m still waiting for a shred of evidence of this supposed intellect of his – some reason to believe he’s not just another intellectual affirmative-action case.

  • j hentai

    a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine

    so i take it that scalia will be resigning then?

  • muselet

    The Supreme Court has, since 1888, stated in numerous cases that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the 14th Amendment. The right to marriage is so fundamental, in fact, that even prisoners serving life sentences —or prisoners on death row—cannot be denied the freedom to marry except under extraordinary circumstances.

    It is passing strange that not one of the dissenters in Obergefell v. Hodges troubled himself to explain why this case was constitutionally different from all those precedents. Why might that be, I wonder.

    All the usual suspects—the same ones, oddly enough, who went beet-red and howled in ourtrage at yesterday’s decision in King v. Burwell—have gone beet-red and are howling in outrage at this decision. Antonin Scalia fulminated about “hubris” and “no social transformation without representation” (ignoring the polls that put overall support for marriage equality at round about 57%), Mike Huckabee bloviated that he will not “acquiesce to an imperial court,” and Bobby Jindal decided he hadn’t stepped on his johnson today and advocated eliminating the Supreme Court.

    “This ruling is a victory for America.”

    Indeed it is.


  • Christopher Foxx

    a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine

    Huh. I wonder how Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg feel about being describe as “patrician”.

  • Badgerite

    The Framers of the Constitution thought highly enough of personal relations to carve out a spot in the First Amendment to protect freedom of association. The most basic association there is, is family.
    ( If I had known this was going to be such an entertaining week at the Court I would have made some popcorn.)

  • Toolymegapoopoo

    Such a great day in American history. Reading Scalia’s tantrum just made it all the more sweet. I’m wearing my Human Rights Campaign T-shirt to Thanksgiving this year and when my idiot uncle says “I don’t believe in gay marriage” I’ll tell him it doesn’t matter anymore what he believes. Great day!

    • Christopher Foxx

      “I don’t believe in gay marriage”

      I don’t even understand what that means. Clearly gay marriage, even before the Court’s ruling, exists. It’s like saying “I don’t believe this chair I’m sitting in exists.”

      • waspuppet

        It means “I don’t like gay marriage, but I know full well that I can’t come up with a coherent, respectable reason why because none exists. Thanks to we conservatives’ constant whining and complaining, however, you get a pass in America for couching your unconstitutional, un-American arguments in pseudo-religious terms, so I’m gonna do that and you can’t disagree with me.”

    • muselet

      John Roberts’s dissent is, if anything, worse than Scalia’s.