In 1967, after a unanimous (9-0) decision to forbid states from restricting marriage among people of different races, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote: “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”
In 2015, in a shamefully close, but completely predictable 5-4 vote, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent against the Court’s legalization of gay marriage, “Whether same-sex [interracial] marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.” Fortunately, the 1967 Court hearing Loving v Virginia and the 5 Justices who voted for equal rights in 2015 thought it should very much be of concern to the Court. Chief Injustice Roberts went on to write, “Today, five lawyers have ordered every state to change their definition of marriage,” Roberts said. “Just who do we think we are?”
We, sir, hoped that you thought yourselves to be the moral bellwether of the United States government. We thought you believed yourselves to be that great compass that guides us not to the strict foundational words of our founding (white, male) fathers, but toward the great ideals that our nation purports to be founded upon. We hoped you thought yourselves not to be 9 lawyers, but the few, brave souls who would stand up to injustice and say, “The line must be drawn here! This far; no further!”
But, alas, that was merely a fiction. You, sir, are no Jean-Luc Picard, and this is not science fiction. You are merely a lawyer who is content to dwell through all time on the wrong side of history.
Since you lack the moral decency to be ashamed, allow us, the American people, to be ashamed on your behalf. Love, sir, always wins. Had you watched more movies, perhaps you would have known that.
“I knew Earl Warren. Earl Warren was a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Earl Warren,” said everybody, everywhere.
6 thoughts on “Chief Injustice John Roberts: On the Wrong Side of History”
The Supreme Court was correct today in this verdict. I argue, mostly reliably in time, the Justices, historically speaking, bring the country into balance (and are a serious consideration for me as to who I vote for as president).
The most important thing Kennedy wrote was that gays and lesbians “may not be deprived of liberty” or of that “fundamental right” to marry.
I DISAGREE with you that the High Court should be an arbiter of morality, nor should it lead or not lead on social issues. What it does is evaluate the constitutionality of existing laws. Our country needs it, in fact, to stick to this basic tenet. It’s part of the checks and balances of our 3-branch governmental system (tamping down tyranny and ensuring laws are correct under our constitution). It’s not a preacher, nor a university or philosopher. They are judges and lawyers (period).
Chief Justice John Roberts may well be on the wrong side of history, but, that’s inconsequential regarding his job; all that matters for him as Chief Justice is that his interpretation of the protection of equal rights (he favors state’s rights) is wrong. When the state denies equal protection for all, the federal must supersede (Constitutional Law 101). I really felt — dispassionately — that as a matter of law, this was easy. As a matter of society, morality, public opinion and history … it’s been steeped in great complexity and controversy. But, that can be said of all the major rulings that so impacted social dogma.
Correctly, today, the majority dealt with this simplest of legal issues in this complex social matter: It was about equal rights under the law. The importance here for this verdict is that no one under the banner of our Constitution should be denied equal rights. So, I appreciate your passion, but I think it’s, at the least, baseless, and, at most, dangerous to expect the Court to make decisions according to morality or even ethics. They should stick to the constitutionality of a law (which they gratefully, narrowly did).
Yeah, I get the old active versus passive court debate. We are I the midst of a great social upheaval. The largest population group in the U.S. Is Millenials, who have passed Baby Boomers with over 80 million people. Unlike previous generations, Millenials are 44% “minority.” In fact, of those 5 and under, they are a majority (50.2%) minority.
We are in an age of diversity that will only increase. Our history has shown that we can ill afford a passive court when injustice prevails. Never has the Legislative Branch taken the lead in needed social reform. Limiting the Court to simply rubber stamp what 18th Century white males wrote is insipid. We aren’t the 1776 Continental Congress. We need leaders that will take the ideals (which were never put into law) and move the country in the right direction. I frsnkly don’t give a damn who disagrees. I’m simply happy 5 a Justices understand their job.
It’s time we moved into our future.
I don’t think it’s active versus passive … just about the job of the Court. But, I totally agree. This has been such an outstanding week given how tragic and heartbreaking last week was. Not meaning to rain on parades! Society moves slowly, but when it does change it seems to go into overdrive. Glad to be here witnessing such long-awaited change. (Really enjoy your blog.)
I agree with you, it is very commendable that the Chief Justice doesn’t see that the powers that be should have a say in who people marry, he is right: it is nobody’s damned business. However, considering the people ‘beneath’ the cover of the law must conform to its edicts if they wish to have a stress free life, then to simply do what they wish and marry whomever they like even if it goes against individual state law is, well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out how that will transpire. We are hamstrung by the law, and must follow its rules no matter whether we agree or disagree with its moral code. If our getting married was none of the U.S. government’s damned business, then I wouldn’t be stuck so many thousands of miles from the man I love waiting to be told whether my love is legally justified or not. Ah no, you might utter, that’s an immigration issue, it’s got nothing to do with prejudices exercised by the legal system that have been raised due to same sex marriage… think on that a little clever, wise people. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter the shape or colour it adopts, it is based on the notion of conceivable threat that must be controlled in order to preserve sociopolitical sanctity, which adversely has nothing to do with the morals, ethics, or desires of the individual. Nothing at all. All this ruling proves is that equal rights, and freedom within the U.S. are idealistic myths that have no real bearing on day to day reality. That part of the law is moot. It’s just a form of marketing bait.
I want to like this a 100 times.
You are so sweet.
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