Vital Signs

After Obergefell: What Now?

I have previously suggested in these pages that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Obergefell v. Hodges—the five-to-four decision which declared that two Americans of the same sex have a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry each other—may be the worst in the history of the Court.  First, there was no adequate legal or constitutional basis to make such a decision, given that the Constitution reserves the responsibility for determining marriage law to the states, not the federal courts.  Second, the Court decided not on the law, but on a particular political or cultural view that marriage is a matter of individual choice, that it is about self-actualization, and not about maintaining tradition, preserving the stability of the society, promoting procreation, ensuring the rearing of children by two biological parents, or behaving pursuant to a particular moral code.

Suppose you believe (as did the four dissenters, Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts) that the Supreme Court’s majority got it wrong.  Are you compelled to accept the majority’s implicit suggestion that their view is the only correct one?  If, for example, you have sincerely held religious convictions that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman, may you still act on such convictions?  If you are a baker, may you refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?  If you...

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