Today's SCOTUS decision does grave injury to the basic concept that the people—not the courts—make the law. The Court has abruptly cut off the ongoing debate over the definition of marriage, unilaterally imposing its view of what’s good for society by suddenly discovering a new constitutional right that almost no one would have imagined just a few years ago. The "separation of powers" most of us learned about in grade school is daily being undermined by executive fiat and judicial overreach. It is time for all of us to remind our elected leaders that all governmental power ultimately resides in the consent of the governed—not in kings, dictators, or judges.
You can read the majority decision, and the four separate dissenting opinions, here.
Here are some excerpts from the dissenting justices, which show the level of alarm raised by this astonishing judicial act:
Chief Justice John Roberts:
"But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening.... The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial 'caution' and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own 'new insight' into the 'nature of injustice.'"In doing so, Roberts contends, the majority justices have usurped the role of legislators and ultimately of the people themselves:
"The majority today neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role. It seizes for itself a question the Constitution leaves to the people, at a time when the people are engaged in a vibrant debate on that question. And it answers that question based not on neutral principles of constitutional law, but on its own 'understanding of what freedom is and must become'"Similarly, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all object to what they consider a horrifically wrong-headed decision not because they personally disagree with same-sex marriage, but because they care deeply about the role that the U.S. Supreme Court is commissioned to play in our American republic.
Justice Antonin Scalia:
"The [majority's] opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so... The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis."Justice Scalia also notes that at the time the Constitution’s 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, “every State limited marriage to one man and one woman, and no one doubted the constitutionality of doing so.”
Justice Clarence Thomas:
"Our Constitution—like the Declaration of Independence before it—was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from—not provided by—the State. Today’s decision casts that truth aside. In its haste to reach a desired result, the majority misapplies a clause focused on 'due process' to afford substantive rights, disregards the most plausible understanding of the 'liberty' protected by that clause, and distorts the principles on which this Nation was founded. Its decision will have inestimable consequences for our Constitution and our society."Justice Samuel Alito:
"Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent."From the standpoint of those who support the traditional definition of marriage, there is no way to put a positive spin on today's ruling. It is just about as bad as it can get. The Court has plunged our nation into a world where, as Justice Scalia put it, "the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court."
We should take no solace in any assurances that our religious liberties will remain safe. They will not. Justice Alito is prescient in his estimation of the effect of today's decision: "It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy." We fool ourselves if we rest in the belief that we are safe from those who wish to outlaw the sincerely-held views of millions of Americans who know the truth about marriage.
As we see most clearly on days like today, it really DOES matter who we elect to office, especially those who appoint judges!
May God have mercy on the United States of America!