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Religious Tolerance logo

The U.S. Supreme Court's acceptance of appeals of 4 SSM cases:
one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

Part 5: 2015-JAN-16:
Still more reactions to the Supreme Court's
decision to accept the appeals.
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay, Part 4

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thumb down image2015-JAN-16: American family Association suggests that two Justices recuse themselves:

The American Family Association (AFA) is a major evangelical Christian non-profit organization promoting conservative Protestant beliefs. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups in the U.S., has classified the AFA as an anti-gay hate group:

"... based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling." 1

The AFA suggests in a press release that:

"Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from making any same-sex marriage decisions because they have both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies." 2

AFA President Tim Wildmon wrote:

"Both of these justices’ personal and private actions that actively endorse gay marriage clearly indicate how they would vote on same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court. Congress has directed that federal judicial officers must disqualify themselves from hearing cases in specified circumstances. Both Kagan and Ginsburg have not only been partial to same-sex marriage but they have also proven themselves to be activists in favor of it. In order to ensure the Court’s integrity and impartiality, both should recuse themselves from same-sex marriage cases. Congress has an obligation to Americans to see that members of the Supreme Court are held to the highest standards of integrity. The law demands it, and the people deserve it." 2

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The AFA is assuming that because two Justices married same-sex couples in areas of the country where such marriages were both legal and routine, that they are biased in favor of marriage equality. However, there could have been other reasons for them agreeing to solemnizing a wedding. Two that come to mind are:

  • They might simply have been asked by same-sex couples to perform marriage ceremonies and had agreed to marry them because of the Justices' religious beliefs. All the major religions of the world promote an ethic of reciprocity, called the Golden Rule. Feeling an obligation to "do onto others as one would wish to others to do onto them," they might have agreed to perform the ceremonies.

  • They are personal friends of the couples involved. Even if the Justices were opposed to same-sex marriage in principle, they might have married the couples because of that friendship.

The task of any judge is to ignore their personal beliefs while deliberating a case and to apply the law rationally and without bias. The higher a person rises in the judicial system, the more times they exercise this function. Justices Kagan and Ginsberg are undoubtedly experts at this by now.

The APA has not asked that Justice Antonin Scalia recuse himslelf in spite of the strong statements he has made against marriage equality in both the Lawrence v. Texas ruling in 2003 which decriminalized same-gender sexual behavior by adults in private, and the Windsor v. United States ruling in 2013 which gave some married same-sex couples access to 1,138 federal government plans, benefits and protections for themselves and their children.

The other three Justices who are regarded as "conservative" or "strict constructionist" members of the U.S. Supreme Court -- Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- have all stated or agreed with very negative positions on equal rights for sexual minorities. Yet the APA does not suggest that they recuse themselves.

David Badash, writing for The New Civil Rights Movement, said:

"The only problem with Wildmon's statement is it's inaccurate. Supreme Court justices are not bound by any rule or law to recuse themselves, although many have at different times, including Justice Kagan, out of a sense of propriety and duty. ..."

"Of course, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, at the very least, have made quite clear how they will rule on same-sex marriage, so by Wildmon's reasoning, as flawed as it is, they should recuse themselves as well." 3

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You (GAY) -- a pro-LGBT equality group -- wrote:

"Hogwash. ... [The Justices] don't have some sort of unfairly obtained knowledge, financial investment, close relatives involved in the cases, or other conflicting interest. The judges are Americans who have every right to participate in society. They are perfectly free to have opinions about existing law. And of course they are just as allowed to enjoy and engage in lawful activities as any other American.

Having a worldview about a world of which you are, in fact, a part is not a reason for recusal. But nice try, AFA. With odds as stacked against you as they are, I guess I can understand this obvious attempt to game the system. I don't respect it; I do, however, get it." 4

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2015-JAN-16: Attorney General Eric Holder supports marriage equality and a 2013 decision of the high court:

A.G. Holder said:

"After the Justice Department's decision not to defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court sent a powerful message that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.  This landmark decision marked a historic step toward equality for all American families.

The Supreme Court has announced that it will soon hear several cases raising core questions concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriages.  As these cases proceed, the Department of Justice will remain committed to ensuring that the benefits of marriage are available as broadly as possible.  And we will keep striving to secure equal treatment for all members of society—regardless of sexual orientation.

As such, we expect to file a ‘friend of the court’ brief in these cases that will urge the Supreme Court to make marriage equality a reality for all Americans.  It is time for our nation to take another critical step forward to ensure the fundamental equality of all Americans—no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love." 5

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2015-JAN-16 to 20: Other comments on the high court's decision to grant certiorari:

  • Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice -- a conservative legal advocacy group -- issued a statement saying:

    "The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the issue of a constitutional right to gay marriage is both good and bad news for those who believe that the Constitution ought to mean what it says. It is good news because the current state of affairs, where the right exists in some circuits and not others, pleases neither side and appears unsustainable. But it’s also bad news because the court’s decision this June will probably invent a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, which would make it arguably the worst instance of judicial activism by the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay, Part 6.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Pete Williams, "Supreme Court agrees to decide on gay marriage," NBC News, 2015-JAN-16, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
  2. "Kagan and Ginsburg: Recuse Yourselves!," American Family Association, 2015-JAN-16, at: http://www.afa.net/
  3. David Badash, "Anti-Gay Group Demands Liberal Supreme Court Justices Recuse Themselves From Gay Marriage Case," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2015-JAN-19, at: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/
  4. Jeremy Hooper, "Desperate anti-equality group calls on Kagan, Ginsburg to sit out marriage cases," Good As You, 2015-JAN-19, at: http://www.goodasyou.org/
  5. Eric Holder, "Attorney General Holder Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases," Office of the Attorney General, 2015-JAN-16, at: http://www.justice.gov/
  6. Constitution Check: On same-sex marriage, what is settled, what is not?," Constitution Daily, 2015-JAN-20, at: http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage> same-sex marriage sub-menu > Kentucky > Supreme Court > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Kentucky > Supreme Court > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Michigan > Supreme Court > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Michigan > Supreme Court > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Ohio > Supreme Court > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Ohio > Supreme Court > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > same-sex marriage sub-menu > Tennessee > Supreme Court > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage >same-sex marriage sub-menu > Tennessee > Supreme Court >here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > SSM menu > > Supreme Court > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM menu > > Supreme Court > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JAN-16
Latest update: 2015-JAN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson
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