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Saturday, June 27, 2015

SCOTUS rules on Marriage Equality: the tl;dr version

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states on Friday, June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, a 103 page decision which we read so you don't have to.  You should, but seriously, most of you probably won't.  Many people will just read that headline and know that there has been an important change in the status of legal relationships in the U.S.  Both the majority and dissents agree on one thing, this is a significant and far-reaching decision.

For a good overview of the decision itself and the legal impact, visit our friend's blog over at Finn & Eaton: Obergefell v. Hodges: Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage, Part 2.

For now we're posting the tl;dr version of the majority and dissenting opinions:

Here is what each opinion seems to say about the author's view of marriage:

Robert's Dissent:    Marriage is an institution.
Scalia's Dissent:     Marriage limits your expression.
Thomas's Dissent:  Marriage has nothing to do with liberty.
Alito's Dissent:       Marriage is for procreation.

Kennedy's Majority Opinion:  All you need is love.

Below is a slightly more in depth analysis:

Majority Opinion written by Justice Kennedy and joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan

tl;dr: Marriage is a fundamental right under 14th amendment due process and extends to same-sex couples because there is no rationale to deny benefits based on the societal reasons for promoting marriage.  This was not based on a typical equal protection analysis, but rather focused on the nature of marriage and why it's important in today's society and therefore represents an inalienable liberty.

Justice Roberts' dissent joined by Scalia and Thomas

tl;dr: Extending due process rights to marriage = judicial law-making because the history of marriage is clear and the legislative process was doing just fine.  Criticizes the majority for ignoring typical equal protection analysis.

Justice Scalia's dissent joined by Thomas

tl;dr: Scalia really wants you to know that he agrees with Roberts but wants to drop the pretense that he "respectfully dissents".  Also, Californians aren't real westerners and hippies have more fun (seriously, he said that).

Justice Thomas' dissent joined by Scalia

tl;dr: You think you know what "liberty" is? Well, do I have an irrelevant history lesson for you.  It basically involves proving that liberty and dignity can't be given to you by the government so people shouldn't care if the government endorses slavery or traditional marriage.  Change comes from within, man, so don't look to us for help. 

Justice Alito's dissent joined by Scalia and Thomas

tl;dr: Same sex marriage might have dire consequences... none of which he's willing to describe in detail other than to imply that religious freedom and democracy itself will be damaged by this decision.  


1 comment:

  1. The best summary of the equal marriage decision I've seen--talk about the salient points--you got them down, including the dissents. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete

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