equal protection and marriage equality

Primary tabs

Obergefell v. Hodges

Of course, the Supreme Court’s role in determining whether or not government conduct is Constitutional goes well beyond the realm of crime and punishment. The most noteworthy example from this term is Obergefell v. Hodges, where the Court ruled by a 5 – 4 majority that states could not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples without violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. [Read our Preview here.] True to his reputation as the “swing vote” on issues that divide the Court along ideological lines, Justice Kennedy authored the opinion, in which he was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. He concluded the opinion by writing, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” He continued, “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”