Supreme Court Rulings

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

The Supreme Court ruled that the states cannot deny marriage licenses to homosexuals. It is a divisive issue, but it is a decision likely to remain as long as the current American union remains. Here is why it should.

Americans’ understanding of individual dignity, rights and autonomy has expanded over time. States were once allowed to own slaves, ban interracial marriages, criminalize homosexuality, and forbid contraception. Like homosexual marriage now, those laws were ruled unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Those who oppose this ruling object mostly on religious grounds. The majority opinion acknowledged this argument and responded: “when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied.”

Some have called this ruling “judicial tyranny.” As an attorney who tries to protect his clients’ constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties, I disagree. This was a ruling limiting state Legislatures, through the Constitution, from violating fundamental human rights of choice, association and contract.

In sum, prohibiting “two consenting adults whose marriages would pose no risk of harm to themselves or third parties” insults the basis notions of a free society. Regardless of whether or not I agree with homosexual marriage from a religious perspective, liberty is the prime objective when forming government.


By Joe Carbonari

Who sits on the Supreme Court is important. Their decisions affect our lives, our freedom, and our happiness. They bring the sum of their individual lives and experiences to those decisions – to the weighing of the various pluses and minuses.

The same-sex marriage decision had a lot of pluses and minuses, strongly held. Since the Constitution didn’t cover it, the Justices were asked, in effect, to decide if an individual’s sexual orientation ought to be grounds for legal disapprobation and discrimination. For varying reasons they voted 5-4 in favor of helping our laws catch up with our society.

I am glad. A lot of good people will have better lives, and society will benefit as a whole, children included. The ability to love, to protect, to cherish is not dependent on gender or orientation. Having a loving, stable family is more important than its composition.

It’s said that the Supreme Court has two distinct functions. One is to interpret law; the other is to protect freedoms. The determination of what those freedoms are, and should be, depends on the individuals involved. Appointments are important.

Presidents appoint justices who they feel are well-qualified, like-minded, and confirmable.If our laws are to evolve with our society our lawmakers, the Congress, must understand and reflect our society. Our current electoral districts hamper that. An “activist” court might ameliorate. I hope so.