Not Getting Too Far Out in Front: The Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Sex Marriage


The United States Supreme Court usually makes decisions that are in step with the thinking of American society as a whole, even if that society does not yet realize the implications of its own changing viewpoints. The Court adapts to most changes in society without being disruptive, whybitcoinprice reflecting changes over time and in line with majority opinion and thinking rather than forcing changes upon the nation.

The rules by which courts are governed control the relationship between higher and lower courts. The decision of a higher court controls the lower courts within its jurisdiction. This doctrine of precedent, called stare decisis, means that there will be consistently similar outcomes in similar cases. A court will deviate from its own prior decisions only when a departure would not upset settled expectations, the prior decision reflects judge-made law rather than a statute, ufa168live and other courts have questioned the validity of the prior decision.

The Supreme Court’s decisions about sex, race, and marriage have often been somewhat controversial when made, but ultimately the majority of people in the country quickly agree that they were correctly decided. Because sex and marriage are such intimate and personal issues, chronicleshub however, it is not until a new concept works its way through the courts that many of us think through the implications of a decision.

Controversial but ultimately widely-supported Supreme Court Decisions

Take, for example, the Supreme Court’s cases that were somewhat shocking when made but which, once we had thought about it, most Americans supported. In Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Court held unanimously that state laws establishing separate but equal schools based on race was inherently discriminatory. Today no one challenges this, though it took the U.S. Army United Marriage Education and federal marshals to enforce it when originally decided.

Prior to the Brown decision, however, many other state and federal courts had worked through the issues and held that race discrimination was improper. Thus in Murray v. Maryland (1936), Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), Sweat v. Painter (1938), and McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents (1950), the Supreme Court and many lower courts had decided in a variety of contexts that having “separate but equal” educational systems was absurd and inherently unfair. Then-NAACP attorney and later Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall had spent decades building a national consensus that largely ensured that the majority of Americans were in agreement with the dismantling of American apartheid.

Moving from education to interpersonal relations, Therapist Florida in Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court unanimously held that Virginia’s prohibition on interracial marriages was unconstitutional, ending all race-based legal restrictions in the country. But before the issue of interracial marriage got to the Supreme Court, there had been twenty-years of development of the issues, beginning with the California Supreme Court’s decision in Perez v. Lippold (1948) that race-based regulation of marriage was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. During those years many courts had dealt with the issue, so that by the time of the Supreme Court’s decision a consensus was emerging throughout the country on the validity of segregation in America.

Roe v. Wade

However, in Roe v. Wade (1973) and its companion case Doe v. Bolton (1973), the Supreme Court created a new precedent that forced change for which the country was not ready by ruling that a federal constitutional right to privacy exists, Wirelesswanted and that this right to privacy gives a right to abortion. The result has been civil strife, with protests that have gone on unabated for forty years, and which bitterly divides America to this day. A key factor in the controversy was that the issues had not been fully developed in the lower courts and in society as a whole before they were decided by the Supreme Court.

The distinguishing feature of the Court’s decisions in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases that made them fundamentally different from the other cases it had decided on the subject of sex was that the Court went beyond ruling on the question before it, which was the constitutionality of extreme state anti-abortion statutes in Texas and Georgia. The Texas statute at issue criminalized assisting or advising a woman to get an abortion for any reason other than for saving the life of the mother. Georgia required that abortions be conducted in accredited hospitals, required approval by a hospital abortion committee and confirmation by other physicians, and limited abortion to Georgia residents.

By going far beyond what the American people thought necessary to decide those cases and declaring a fundamental constitutional right to abort a pregnancy, the Supreme Court adopted a medical approach to which much of society has remained hostile ever since. Decades after the decision, the issues are as controversial as they were when the Court decided that there was a constitutional right to abortion.

Back to incremental change

In contrast to the decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the Supreme Court made very limited rulings in the same-sex marriage cases that came before it in 2013. Chief Justice Roberts has long advocated restrained and incremental decision-making, using procedural devices to avoid contentious substantive decisions. The Court under this Chief Justice has directly overruled only three cases based upon the Constitution: Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) (1st Amendment right to political speech), Montejo v. Louisiana, 556 U.S. 778 (2009) (5th Amendment rights in a criminal case), and Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, 570 U.S. __ (2013) (federal approval of state voting procedures). For more details visit here websites:-

It should not have come as a big surprise, but nonetheless has done so, that in 2013 the Court issued extremely limited rulings on the subject of same-sex marriage, neither of which implicated the U.S. Constitution. Opponents of same-sex marriage seemed to let their fears get ahold of them, while advocates assumed that the logic of their arguments was unassailable and that same-sex marriage would be declared a fundamental right.

Hollingsworth v. Perry

In Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the case, holding that the court of appeals and the Supreme Court itself lacked jurisdiction. The California Supreme Court had held that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. In response, the voters of California passed a constitutional amendment, called Proposition 8, to reinstate the ban. The California Supreme Court declared that amendment to be valid because same-sex couples could have domestic partnerships and thus had all of the benefits of marriage but without the name.

Two same-sex couples brought a federal lawsuit against the Governor, attorney general, and state and local officials in California, alleging that the prohibition on marriage in name and fact exactly equal to that of other married couples violated the U.S. Constitution. The state officials refused to defend the law, and the district court judge allowed interested parties to intervene as defendants, because California Constitution and state law permit the sponsors of initiatives to defend those initiatives in court if the state government refuses to do so.


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