Roe v. Wade, Gay Marriage, and the Supreme Court

Supreme Court BuildingAs the Supreme Court prepares to hear cases concerning marriage rights this week, there has been increasing talk about how this decision parallels the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling in 1973.  Maybe it is the timing — an even forty years apart — but I don’t understand the comparison.

Of course I don’t understand opposition to marriage equality in the first place.  I simply don’t see why the opposition opposes!  I don’t mean to sound disinterested and unconcerned — because I am not — but who cares?!

Alas, people do care, they care enough to impose their personal views to the extent that they want to codify personal beliefs over personal rights.  I understand the bigotry — we are not perfect — but the laws are in place to protect rights from bigotry.  And now to confuse the issue with parallels to Roe v Wade adds another layer of irrelevance.

Let’s suppose arguments opposing abortion rights are valid insofar as they are making a claim that the rights of a living person are at stake.  Laws opposing abortion are intended to protect those rights — the right of life, liberty, and ultimately the pursuit of happiness — are at stake.

marriageequalityflagbuttonthumbWhere is the similar argument in the marriage debate?

People opposed to marriage inequality like to argue that children suffer when raised in a household with same-sex parents.  Never mind that this myth has been dispelled, but if that is the test, where does that test end?

One might argue, for example, that children of young parents are disadvantaged.  Or maybe a parent who is estranged or away from home too much isn’t an effective parent.  Perhaps children of parents with addiction or crime problems create more challenges for children.  As a point of fact, these last three examples do create measurable challenges for children.  Do we outlaw these relationships?

For a party that defends the concept of small government, they seem eager to overstep their bounds on this issue.

The Constitution of the United States should be the law that defends minority rights, not one that is abused to enforce majority opinion over minority rights.  That’s the point of liberty for all, correct?

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

This brings me to another part of this Supreme Court confusion that troubles me.  It is something Justice Anthony Kennedy said.  He said, “A democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say.”

Wait a minute.  Did Kennedy just argue for his own irrelevancy?  What, exactly, is the role of the Supreme Court of the United States?  He seems to be arguing for rule by referendum, even rights by referendum.  Isn’t that exactly contrary to the founding principles of this country?

Especially with partisan courts, including the Supreme Court and the ideological process of appointing and approving justices, this comment seems absolutely strange.  Or I am missing something.

We entrust the justices of the Supreme Court to assess cases based on the constitutionality of the law.  The fact that they are nine unelected people is essential, they should not feel beholden to political affiliations and thereby (we hope) be free to be objective.  Kennedy says just the opposite.  What is he doing on the court?  The court shouldn’t be “deciding”, as he claims it is, it should be refereeing, establishing Constitutional validity.

The fact that we have serious people considering anti-marriage rights laws in the first place is frightening.  The fact that argument exposes  the politicized — and apparently constitutionally apathetic — Supreme Court shows a judicial and legal crisis as it relates to our most basic rights.

We have a problem here.  Why aren’t people outraged?


4 thoughts on “Roe v. Wade, Gay Marriage, and the Supreme Court

  1. Invisible Mikey

    Oh, I think people have been upset about it for decades. Outrage, however, doesn’t work well as a strategy for changing unjust laws. So scientists (like me) and scholars have been doing the research and gathering irrefutable facts. You have to be able to present these in court in order to counter the irrational arguments underlying the quasi-legal opposition to marriage equality.

    In order to foster progress, you must exchange “out rage” for inner peace.

    1. Tour Guide Post author

      Thanks for your comment. At the level of public discourse — rather than the “rational” context of law and policy — I do think we have become docile and unengaged. You mention irrefutable facts, but I doubt many people can even define what a fact is in the first place.

      Much is going on today that I think would have raised movements and protests just decades ago. Now it is barely noticed with as much as a shrug. That, I think, is a problem. It enables those would expect to be lining up more logical solutions to sidestep facts in favor of opinions. Public accountability to sincerity and facts is not strong. That is the outrage, not so much a specific strategy per se.


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