Is Justice Thomas Correct? Is Supreme Court Clearing Way for Same Sex Marriage?
In a scathing dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court complained that the high court’s refusal to block the ruling in a federal district in Alabama, invalidating that state’s ban on same-sex marriage was tantamount to paving the way for gay marriage nationwide. Many legal experts agree. Judge Callie V.S. Granade, of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, held the state’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage to violate the U.S. Constitution.
Legal authorities across the country believe that Thomas is correct, that in light of its recent actions, the Supreme Court has decided not to interfere with the trend toward nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. In the last six months, the high court has refused to hear appeals from numerous states where same-sex marriage bans were found to be unconstitutional. During that time period, the number of states permitting same-sex marriage has grown from 19 to 37.
Though the high court has ruled on the Alabama law, the matter is far from settled there. In actions reminiscent of the state’s belligerent opposition to civil right in the 1960s, top public officials have ordered probate judges to ignore the Supreme Court ruling. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore ordered Alabama probate judges on Sunday not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Thus far, probate judges in 52 of Alabama’s 67 counties have complied with Judge Moore’s order. Many same-sex marriages were held, though, in the 15 counties where license were issued.
In Justice Thomas’s dissent, he contended that the Supreme Court decision, in United States v. Windsor, which in 2013 invalidated some provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, did not resolve all issues. He argued that the status quo should have remained in effect in Alabama until those questions were addressed by the high court. In his opinion, the court’s refusal to hear appeals amounted to “acquiescence” and “a signal of the court’s intended resolution of the question.”