At Last, Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Marriage Cases. Will History Be Made?

By Richey, Warren | The Christian Science Monitor, April 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

At Last, Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Marriage Cases. Will History Be Made?


Richey, Warren, The Christian Science Monitor


In a dispute that could yield one of the most important judicial decisions of this generation, the US Supreme Court on Tuesday is set to hear arguments examining whether the Constitution requires state governments to license and recognize marriages between persons of the same-sex.

The issues arise in four consolidated cases from same-sex couples in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky. The couples are challenging state laws and state constitutional amendments that limit marriage to its traditional definition - a union of one man and one woman.

The dispute arrives at the nation's highest court at a time of greater acceptance of gay marriage - with 61 percent of Americans expressing support in a recent poll. But it also arrives amid an increasingly bitter clash between gay rights activists on one side and religious and social conservatives on the other.

Supporters of same-sex marriage are hoping that the high court issues a sweeping decision akin to a gay rights version of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark opinion that declared racial segregation unconstitutional.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say a ruling that redefines marriage nationwide would be similar to the high court's divisive 1973 abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. Rather than ending the dispute, the ruling gave a focus to anti-abortion activism that continues to this day.

Some conservative critics even say a same-sex marriage ruling would be the worst Supreme Court action since the reviled Dred Scott decision in 1857 propelled the country toward civil war.

Resolution of the marriage cases will depend on how a majority of justices interpret key provisions of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

The amendment, ratified in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War, was designed to enforce the rights of freed slaves in the face of discriminatory state laws. It has since been applied in a wide variety of contexts, including in support of gay rights and in challenges to restrictive marriage laws.

The amendment prohibits states from depriving any person of "life, liberty, or property" without due process of law. It also bars states from denying any person the equal protection of the laws.

Same-sex couples argue that the 14th Amendment guarantees them the freedom to marry and receive the same recognition, benefits, and protections as heterosexual married couples. They say there is no rational reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

In defending their traditional marriage laws, state governments argue that the process of changing a state's definition of marriage should rest with elected lawmakers and voters, not judges.

The case is significant because a broad constitutional ruling would greatly expand civil rights protections available to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in a single judicial decision that would apply in every jurisdiction nationwide.

On the other side, if the high court rules for the states, the case would be significant because it would uphold the authority of individual states to decide divisive issues of social policy through democratic channels on a state-by-state basis rather than by decrees issued by federal judges and Supreme Court justices.

The nine-member Supreme Court is itself sharply divided over which of those two approaches it should follow.

Legal analysts expect the deciding vote to be cast by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The conservative centrist is considered a champion of states' rights and federalism, but he has also authored three major decisions substantially expanding gay rights in America.

Many analysts believe that Justice Kennedy, having laid that groundwork, will now draw on those three earlier decisions and issue a keystone ruling in favor of same-sex couples challenging the state marriage laws.

"The very strong conventional wisdom is that there are five votes supporting the challengers," Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, told reporters during a recent teleconference sponsored by the Federalist Society. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

At Last, Supreme Court Hears Same-Sex Marriage Cases. Will History Be Made?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.