State bans on same-sex marriage are falling like dominoes in the courts — just as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia predicted.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages Tuesday, writing, “We are a better people than these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”
It’s the 14th consecutive legal victory since the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage rulings last year, according to the Associated Press.
The Supreme Court’s rulings last year didn’t say that states must recognize same-sex marriage. But lower-court judges have taken note of the Supreme Court’s reasoning and rhetoric, striking down state marriage laws even on grounds the Supreme Court didn’t quite reach.
Scalia, who says there’s no right to same-sex marriage, probably hates it. But he did call it.
When the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Defense of Marriage Act last year, it said that same-sex couples can’t be denied federal benefits — but that it was leaving state marriage laws alone. Scalia, though, openly mocked that proposition in an angry dissent, arguing that the way the Court’s DOMA opinion was written, lower courts would surely use it to strike down state laws restricting the right to marry.
“By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,” Scalia wrote in his dissent last year.
On Tuesday, Judge John Jones — a Republican appointee — specifically cited Scalia’s dissent in his decision striking down Pennsylvania’s marriage law.
Here’s Scalia’s prediction:
Henceforth those challengers will lead with this Court’s declaration that there is “no legitimate purpose” served by such a law, and will claim that the traditional definition has “the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure” the “personhood and dignity” of same-sex couples…. The majority’s limiting assurance will be meaningless in the face of language like that, as the majority well knows.
And here’s Jones’s ruling in Pennsylvania:
“As Justice Scalia cogently remarked in his dissent, “if [Windsor] is meant to be an equal-protection opinion, it is a confusing one.”¦ Windsor found DOMA unconstitutional because “no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure.”
Scalia’s biggest beef with the Court’s ruling on DOMA was that, in his view, it fudged on its specific legal rationale. The majority, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, avoided the most sweeping proclamations of a constitutional right to marry, because that would have directly implicated state marriage laws as well.
The Court’s legal reasoning may have been murky, but the rhetoric describing DOMA as discrimination for the sake of it was crystal clear.
So while lower-court judges haven’t disagreed with Scalia that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling was vague, they do still disagree on the fundamental question of whether same-sex couples can marry — and they’re recognizing that the Supreme Court gave its stamp of approval, legal confusion notwithstanding.
“There is no precise legal label for what has occurred in Supreme Court jurisprudence “¦ but this Court knows a rhetorical shift when it sees one,” an Oklahoma judge wrote in a decision striking down that state’s ban earlier this year.
If Scalia’s 2013 predictions continue to hold, it won’t be long before marriage equality is back before the Supreme Court — and then becomes legal in all 50 states.
- 1 The Rising Stars to Watch at the Democratic National Convention
- 2 Trump gets bounce from convention and now it’s Clinton’s turn
- 3 On Convention’s First Night, Bernie Sanders and His Supporters Upstage Clinton
- 4 The Gender Politics of Pence’s Governor Pick
- 5 Can Hillary Clinton Succeed on the Hill Where Obama Didn’t?
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Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."
In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.
"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.
Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.
The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."