Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You Learn Something New Everyday

Justice Clarence Thomas may not be the single stupidest man ever to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. That honor may fall to Samuel Alito:


“You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution, which is newer than cellphones or the Internet?” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked. “We do not have the ability to see the future.”


Now, if his intent was simply to throw the case back to the lower courts, which would effectively end Proposition 8 in California and establish same-sex marriage there, then this is a ham-handed and clumsy way to go about it. Sonia Sotamayor said it far more elegantly:


“If the issue is letting the states experiment and letting the society have more time to figure out its direction, why is taking a case now the answer?” she asked.


I fail to see what’s new about marriage, the legal conjoining of two people for the purposes of forming a family unit. And I fail to see what’s new about establishing equal rights under the law for all people – to-wit, if I can marry as a straight man, why can’t two lesbians or gay men marry, too?


After all, I want them to be as miserable as I have been!


Based on the questions and comments the various justices put forth, I assume this case is going to be kicked out as a waste of the Court’s time, especially given the conservative “anti-activism” strain of Justice on the bench now.


But kicking the case back down the ladder does serious damage to people in other states who are waiting for the right to marriage and all the benefits that accrue therein. We all know stories of long-term cohabitating couples who, for example, were denied the right to an estate because of a lack of married status and the “spouse” dying intestate.


This sort of puts paid to the notion that this is a new issue, that people are being forced out of homes because their name isn’t on a lease where their partner has died, or unable to collect on a life insurance policy for lack of standing. This is clearly an eyesore on America’s legal landscape, and I would urge Justice Alito to grow a spine.