Gavel Grab

Supreme Court Arguments Reveal ‘Deep Divide’ Among Justices

29SCOTUS2-master675The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

According to The New York Times, the justices seemed  “deeply divided” on the civil rights issue, debating both what the  right answer is and the way in which to reach that answer. Comments from the justices included:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts said that he had looked up definitions of marriage and had been unable to find one written before a dozen years ago that did not define it as between a man and a woman. “If you succeed, that definition will not be operable. You are not seeking to join the institution. You are seeking to change the institution.”

  • Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said he was concerned about changing a conception of marriage that has persisted for millennia. Later, though, he expressed qualms about excluding gay families from what he called a noble and sacred institution

  • Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked whether groups of four people must be allowed to marry.

  • Justice Antonin Scalia said a ruling for same-sex marriage might require some members of the clergy to perform the ceremonies, even if they violate their religious teaching.

  • Justice Stephen G. Breyer described marriage as a fundamental liberty.

  • Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan said that allowing same-sex marriage would do no harm to the marriages of opposite-sex couples.

Politico reports that many opponents of marriage equality believe the Court will support the Constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry.

“We recognize that we are at a crossroads like never before in this nation’s history,” the American Decency Association’s Bill Johnson said, urging gay-marriage opponents to hope for the best but brace for the worst.

One of the plaintiffs, Jim Obergefell of Ohio, told Politico that he’s surprised at how quickly the country has come to accept marriage of same-sex couples.

“What I hope will happen in June is long overdue, but I have to be happy that it is on the verge of happening.”

A decision will happen before the court recesses at the end of June.


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