Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito Criticize 2015 Decision to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Google+Images

Google Images

Jordan Pyle, Editor

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito issued a statement on September 28, 2020 siding against the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states. The two justices released the statement in response to Kim Davis, a former Kentucky County Clerk, getting sued for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court declined Davis’ request to hear her case. Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on multiple occasions and even refused to issue “traditional” marriage licenses. This resulted in her spending five days in jail.

Despite the decision to not hear Davis’ case, Thomas and Alito stated that Obergefell v. Hodges was to blame for the way the court treated Davis. They wrote, “Davis may have been one of the first victims of this court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision.”

Thomas and Alito said in their statement that the Obergefell decision was harmful to religious liberty in America and “enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.”

The two justices also stated that because the Supreme Court endorsed “a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem only it can fix.”

Thomas and Alito have opposed the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision on multiple occasions and have not been the only members of the Supreme Court to do so. They were also among the four members of the Supreme Court to vote against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Although no other members of the Supreme Court joined Thomas and Alito in issuing their statement, those who voted against the decision in 2015 have “all been staunch supporters of of robust religious rights, de-emphasizing the concept of separation between church and state, and emphasizing the importance of the free exercise of religion.” The members who voted against the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015 are Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Niel Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, late Justice Antonin Scalia, as well as President Donald Trump’s proposed candidate to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amy Coney Barrett.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an important list of laws relating both “generally and neutrally” to the Obergefell v. Hodges case in November. The issue presented to the court is Philadelphia’s decision to end a contract with Catholic Social Services over parental screening for foster care. Philadelphia chose to terminate the contract because Catholic Social Services refused to certify same-sex couples despite meeting the necessary qualifications.

As a result of Thomas and Alito’s statement regarding Obergefell v. Hodges, many Americans are worried about the security of the case, how it will affect their lives, and whether or not they will be able to get married in the future.

Sources: npr.com