June 26, 2015
Note: This is about addressing the concerns about the judiciary system, not political views.
Today, June 26th, 2015, marks the day that the United States Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal nationwide. As a resident of Massachusetts who shares the state’s primarily liberal and progressive ideals, I am happy to hear the news. Of course there are many who disapprove of the decision (the decision itself was close with a 5-4 majority). However let us back away from the assumption that those who disapprove are solely those who are against gay rights. Looking at the front page of Business Insider, there are several articles about the rational of some of the justices behind the supreme court (SCOTUS) decision. Once you read the articles about those who voted against the decision, a potentially huge problem reveals itself.
#It’s About Judiciary Power
Among the justices who voted against the ruling, there are two common themes within their dissents:
The first point is important to remember since this means that the SCOTUS technically doesn’t represent the peoples’ decision in an accurate way (that’s what the Senate and House of Representatives are for). Which is obviously the first point that the opposition for any SCOTUS decision may bring up because they can argue that it’s easy for SCOTUS to not take into account the thoughts of the entire nation. This is why many are outraged that SCOTUS could make such a decision instead of the states or perhaps the legislative branch.
The Constitution (point #2) basically emphasizes the significance of point #1 because the Constitution states that the power belongs to the people. Once again, because SCOTUS does not accurately represent the people, the opposition is arguing that they should not have had the power to make any decision on gay-marriage at all. Instead gay marriage should have been a policy dealt with individually by the states. I am not well versed in the Constitution so I won’t try and explain further, but I want to leave you with some points taken from the Business Insider articles I mention earlier.
Chief Justice John Roberts writes:
“Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.””
“This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
“To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation”
Justice Clarence Thomas also argues that those petitioning for gay marriage were not deprived of their liberty. Furthermore, the pro-gay-marriage justices’ decision for the sake of dignity is constitutionally unfounded since the government cannot grant or take away a peoples’ dignity.
While I am happy for those who are positively affected by the SCOTUS decision today, I wrote this to address those who may not quite understand the entire situation behind the opposition.
TL;DR: The SCOTUS justices who opposed the decision to legalize gay marriage across the country are opposed to the judiciary power to make such a decision. The justices do not represent the people and the Constitution states that the power belongs to the people.