Only a handful of times have the actions of the Highest Court in the United States created such anticipation about heavy, contentious rulings within a few days of each other. This week was one such occasion, including a key ruling about the Affordable Care Act and capped with a rare Friday ruling on same-sex marriage.

Looking beyond the headlines, these rulings are intertwined with the heat of ongoing debates among Americans about weighty topics. The Supreme Court itself is inscribed with ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ across the transom, though that has been called into question time and time again. Whether a group of nine people can truly represent the opinions of 330 million-plus is an ongoing debate within itself!

However, today was, I believe, a true step forward in the court playing the role it should: Ensuring all Americans have equal treatment and the same rights and privileges as their neighbors. Even the partisan Constitutional theorists can align on that as a guiding principle.

I was struck most by the Supreme Court’s incredibly salient grasp of its role while reading the final paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s [incredibly well-written] opinion for the majority:

Justice Anthony Kennedy 2015-06-26

Regardless of your opinions on the topic of same-sex marriage, the majority eloquently stated that nobody should have the power to deny you the right of choice. I found Justice Kennedy’s statement incredibly moving.

What’s equally interesting is how, on a macro scale, the opinions about same-sex marriage have changed rapidly across the country. Even statistics guru Nate Silver is intrigued by how quickly public opinion on gay marriage has shifted. It’s worth a read because this trend is likely to continue as the issues and catalysts that force those issues onto the national stage continue to evolve.

Daryl DuLong

 

2 Responses to Blockbuster SCOTUS Week

  1. Stacey Smith says:

    The Supreme Court has taken on a role that is completely wrong. It is not for the Supreme Court to override representative government and the States that through their legislative bodies gave voice to the desires of those states and the laws they want to live under. The Supreme Court is there simply to ensure there is not a violation of the Constitution, and there was no such violation. People had petitioned that a new word be created to describe this union as marriage has a clear definition of a man and woman, but the Supreme Court overrode that request and went far behind it’s role in government.

    While you may like what happened for the outcome here, beware that there may be a day soon when the decisions go a very different direction and they legislate things you completely disagree with. Now 9 non-elected people have the full right to rule over you depending on a case filed in the courts. This should not being a smile to your face. They have again secured a power that was not intended for the High Court. They can, at will, override representative government and the will of the people. This country was supposed to be run according to the will of the majority, not the minority. Through effective debate, discussion, and persuasion things change and can be legislated.

  2. Daryl says:

    I think you raise an interesting point about the boundaries of the 3 branches of Federal government and their relation to those of the States, however I do not see Obergefell v. Hodges as an overstepping of those roles.

    In my interpretation, this particular case was asking whether the varying gay marriage laws state-by-state were creating an uneven playing field, ultimately violating the 14th Amendment (“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…”). The Supreme Court ruling was a level-set of the idea that states do not have the right to pick and choose who can and cannot engage in the act of marriage.

    Yes, there are plenty of Supreme Court decisions with which I disagree, but I see the merit within each disappointing decision. Oftentimes the cases are support for ensuring everyone is playing by the same rules. Isn’t that what a court of law is supposed to do?

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