Over the Rainbow: Thoughts on the DissentsPosted: June 27, 2015
This morning I read the OBERGEFELL v. HODGES dissents. In this post, I share my thoughts about the dissents. Summary: I feel sorry for Roberts and Thomas, I respect Scalia, and I hope Alito is wrong about the future.
Justice Roberts: “As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”
[WENDA: If I misinterpret Roberts’ “we” to include all Americans who favor marriage equality, I can easily answer him: We’re people who understand compassion and fairness and love.]
Justice Scalia: “Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.”
[WENDA: Scalia is brilliant here. I respect his dissent. He’s written many great points, and focuses not on what marriage should be, but rather focuses on what the court should be.]
Another quote from Justice Scalia: “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.”
[WENDA: That cracked me up!]
Justice Thomas: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved”
[WENDA: This sentence sounds terrible when taken out of context, as I did here and as did many on social media yesterday, but the sentence is not too bad in the context of its paragraph and the paragraph before it. Thomas simply wanted to say that dignity is innate. Too bad he stumbled into “Quote Hell” when making his point.]
[WENDA: The early parts of Thomas’ dissent look like they might have been written by a law clerk with a political philosophy and history major loving the chance to exercise that part of his or her brain. The history part includes many references to the Magna Carta.]
Justice Alito: “The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. * * * The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”
[WENDA: I hope he’s wrong about forthcoming “bitter and lasting wounds.” I hope all of us who support marriage equality will find ways to respect the worth and dignity of those who don’t.]
More from Justice Alito about those with traditional views: “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”
[WENDA: I share Alito’s concern here. We must continue to affirm the worth and dignity of all, even as we disagree with their views.]
What are your thoughts on the dissents? What are your thoughts on how well our diverse nation will treat dissent in the future? I welcome your comments. Thank you.
To read the entire OBERGEFELL v. HODGES decision, including dissents, see: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf
I took the photo of cherry tree leaves in England just a few miles from where the Magna Carta was signed 800 years ago.
Note: Now that I’m back practicing law–both as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children in court, and as an attorney with a limited private practice–I figure that a law-related post is “fair game” for this blog about my thoughts on life and learning.