Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas hinted in an opinion Monday that the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — the decision that affirmed marriage equality in the U.S. — could be at risk. The pair said in an opinion that until the court “fixes” this decision, it will have “ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court was faced Monday morning with the decision of whether to take up a case regarding Kim Davis — a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or allow other clerks in her office to do so. Five years later, the legal actions taken against her are still in flux. She’s claiming qualified immunity protects her from lawsuits. On Monday, the court refused to take her case, in effect denying her claim and allowing lawsuits against her by two couples to continue.
Alito and Thomas agreed with the decision not to take her case, but said in a separate opinion that this only proves that the 2015 case, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court determined that laws preventing same-sex marriage are discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional, does harm to religious rights.
The Supreme Court turned away Kim Davis' case, but Thomas (joined by Alito) wrote a jaw-dropping rant taking direct aim at Obergefell and suggesting that SCOTUS must overturn the right to marriage equality in order to protect free exercise. https://t.co/qES8IZkw0U pic.twitter.com/F0zrYdBaeH
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) October 5, 2020
The opinion declares that the decision has given the appearance that the Court agrees anyone opposed to same-sex marriage holds a “bigoted worldview,” characterizes a “traditional view of marriage” as “disrespectful to gays and lesbians,” and allows vilification of these individuals. The pair call Davis a “victim” of the Court’s “cavalier treatment of religion,” and warn that “those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of…discrimination laws.”
By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests…the Court has created a problem that only it can fix. Until then, Obergefell will continue to have “ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com