Sunday, June 28, 2015

Did Four Dissenting Justices In Gay Marriage Case Just Suggest Treason?

The extremism of the Republican Party and the Christofascists in the party's base increasingly sound like pro-slavery zealots from a century and a half ago who used "states rights" arguments to justify southern states' laws allowing the ownership of other humans - not that many of them even deemed blacks fully human.  Frighteningly, we saw some of the same rhetoric in the dissenting opinions of four Supreme Court justices and one has to wonder who in the deranged far right might take such statements as justification for what is in effect treason.  I have long thought that Scalia and Thomas need to be removed from the Court, and such dissenting opinions only add fuel to that view. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at  these dissents.  Here are highlights:

In controversial cases, is the role of jurist to inflame controversy, or quell it?  In Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case which found race-based marriage bans unconstitutional, Chief Justice Earl Warren built a 9-0 consensus—just as he’d done years earlier in Brown vs. Board of Education. He knew that a country divided by race ought to be united, if possible, by a Supreme Court mindful of fundamental values—even if the Court was, as the constitution requires, overturning the will of the majority.

The four dissents in the landmark case on same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, one by each of the conservative justices on today’s Supreme Court, take a very different view. With invective and hyperbole, they pour fuel on the fire of the controversy over same-sex marriage. Rather than merely state their views and disagreements, they use heated language to accuse the five-person majority of imperialism, a “putsch,” and worse.

Thus, the unprecedented calls of elected officials for open revolt against the Supreme Court—a shocking display of treason—are now accompanied by calls from within the Court itself that Obergefell is illegitimate, and the Supreme Court itself no longer worthy of full respect.

Ironically, in alleging a new low for the Court, these four justices have brought one into being. Justice Scalia has, as usual, grabbed the spotlight with juvenile taunting usually reserved for the playground. But in fact, all four opinions are shocking.
Why not just tell the Religious Right to buy pitchforks and blowtorches? Chief Justice Roberts’ ironic opinion is immoderate in alleging immoderacy, extreme in alleging extremism.

Justice Scalia came next. And he begins thus: “I join THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion in full. I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”

It seems inevitable that rhetoric like this will stir the next Confederate flag-waving zealot to an act of, if not domestic terrorism, at least outrageous revolt. How could it be otherwise? And yet this, too, was only the first line.
Throughout Justice Scalia’s hysterical writing in LGBT-related cases, he has doggedly maintained that their subjects are merely “homosexual conduct” and “homosexual sodomy.” That there are, in fact, gay and lesbian people is not part of Justice Scalia’s worldview, as he has shown time and time again. There is only homosexual conduct.

What Justice Scalia is saying here is that if it was “universal and uncontroversial” in 1868, it’s obviously okay now. That principle, of course, would allow states to ban interracial marriages, including that of Justice Thomas. It would allow states to bring back the doctrine that a woman surrenders all her rights to her husband upon marriage. It is shocking. . . . [and ] places Justice Scalia in a bizarre twilight-zone of 19th century values.

Were the targets of such acts only gays and lesbians, it would be bad enough.  But these four dissents have encouraged disrespect of the Supreme Court itself.  Agree or disagree with the Court’s method of interpreting the Constitution, they are acts of vandalism against one of the foundations of our democracy.

These disturbing dissenting opinions underscore the urgency of making sure a Democrat is elected to the White House in 2016.  God help all of us if a Republican wins and more treasonous individuals like Scalia are appointed to the Court. 

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