The majority ruling

This is the ringing final paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling in yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. Rarely have I see legalese so lyrical.



  1. Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    That’s all very romantic and cute- but what I wanted was Anna Nicole Smith’s right to marry a dying billionaire and not pay inheritance tax on his death 😀

    • Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Hey there Koch brothers! Which of you is coming out first?
      I’m happy to do a once p/year Jackie Kennedy style deal if the conditions are right.

      • colnago80
        Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Well, the Koch brothers, at least David, support same sex marriage.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Well said.

  3. Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    As it should be.

  4. Randy Schenck
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Not so sure I would get too wrapped up in the greatness of marriage as the institution it is. Certainly all should have a shot at it if they desire but less face it…nearly half end up departing the great entanglement.

    • Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      A bachelor is someone who never made the same mistake once. 😉

    • Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your logic. That being said, there are a few potential financial opportunities that are available only to people who are divorcing (e.g, one can distribute money from a former spouse’s qualified retirement prior to age 59.5 without paying a 10% penalty tax).

      I used to argue that not permitting gay marriage was discriminatory because, among other things, it prevented them from divorcing and taking advantage of laws pertaining to divorce.

      No one ever had a good reply to that.

  5. Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    I am not familiar with “simple” rulings of the American Supreme Court, but here (Israel) some justices tend to be very poetic.
    I am usually not a great fan of this, to be honest, but I think that in this case, it’s perfectly in place. They made a historical decision, easily in par with Brown v. Board of Educaion (I don’t know about other countries, but at least here, comparative legal study is a common persuasive source in Supreme Court rulings and this SCOTUS decision will surely have an impact. So its importance is not limited to the US). Everybody knows this and the justices know that everybody knows this.

    • colnago80
      Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called for the State of Israel to recognize same sex marriage shortly after the SCOTUS decision was announced.

      • Posted June 26, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

        Not going to happen in the foreseeable future, without some kind of judicial involvement, and I find this extremely unlikely.
        When it comes to marriage, we are in the middle ages, with religious marriage being the only option in Israel. The ultra-orthodox parties hold the PM where it hurts, so no change is possible.
        Common law marriage (the Hebrew term does not include “marriage”) of gays has been recognized for ages.
        Considering how the Supreme Court did not intervene to allow marriage of straight couples who cannot marry for religious reasons, it will be a a huge surprise if it does this for gays.

        • mordacious1
          Posted June 27, 2015 at 1:16 am | Permalink

          Seriously? Two atheists have to get married by a Rabbi? I think I’d get married by an Imam just to upset people.

          • Posted June 27, 2015 at 3:50 am | Permalink

            My reaction was WTF as well as I heard about it the first time. I read somewhere that many young couples travel to Cyprus to get married. It’s almost an industry by now. Those marriages are recognized by the state so everything is legal.
            The real WTF starts when a couple wants a divorce, apparently it can only be granted by a court of rabbies.

            These laws are high on the list of laws that need to change all over the world.

          • Posted June 29, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

            I wish it was so simple. Your religion

          • Posted June 29, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

            I wish it was so simple. You cannot go to a qadi if you’re Jewish or to a pastor of you are Muslim etc.
            Religion is an official thing here, going back to the time of the Ottoman Empire.
            Also, sharaic courts have bigger authority than rabbinical ones.

            • Posted July 6, 2015 at 12:55 am | Permalink

              Could you repeat that last sentence — for any and all who think Israel is “an apartheid nation” or that “Palestinians/Arabs are second class citizens” or that the Israeli government etc., etc., etc.?

  6. GBJames
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink


    • GBJames
      Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      and sub.

  7. Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    The opening premise of the Constitution — in order to form a more perfect Union…” comes to mind.

  8. rickflick
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ll copy that bit of text to show to some special friends of mine.

  9. Sastra
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Apparently dissenting justices Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas have all made a point of sneering at the poetic style of Kennedy’s writing.

    These assh*les never hesitate to use flowing Biblical and religious language to make the opposite point — and are now grinding their teeth in frustration to see a secular argument couched in grandiose rhetoric. Hoist with their own petard, so to speak. I hope it burns them.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      You mean I have to grant Alito some credit for once? 😉

  10. Diane G.
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Justice Kennedy! A memorable write-up for a memorable ruling.

  11. sgo
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Permalink


    This also reminds me of Ian McEwan’s latest, The Children Act. It’s about a family justice who has to decide on a case where a Jehova Witness juvenile is refusing a blood transfusion. Lyrical language in rulings is often mentioned in the book, and I later read in an interview with McEwan that he got the idea for this book after reading some rulings at a dinner party or something like that. I liked the parts in the book that dealt with this, but found the book underwhelming overall, unfortunately.

  12. Randy Schenck
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    I do not mean to knock marriage at all as I’ve been doing it for nearly 40 years. I have no idea why it works when it does or fails so much of the time. I would make a guess many people either think marriage is much more than it could ever be or simply have a lot of mistaken ideas about it.

    It will be interesting to see how well the same sex couples do and I have an idea they may do better on average than the straights have done.

    • ROBIN
      Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Likely, being as human as anyone else, their successes and failures will be no different from those how have had the privilege of marriage. Why would anyone think it be any different?

  13. Posted June 26, 2015 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Willie:
    “Willie Nelson loves love. “Love is what I live on. Love is what keeps me going,” he wrote in his 2006 book The Tao Of Willie. And Wednesday night, in an interview in Austin on his tour bus, Willie said he believes love doesn’t discriminate, “and it shouldn’t be discriminated against.”

    Nelson has been watching the Supreme Court arguments over same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. “[Gay people] should be just as miserable as the rest of us,” quipped Nelson, before giving a more nuanced explanation of what he says has been a life-long, unwavering belief that all people deserve equal protection under the law.”
    (from )

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 26, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for that!

      WN: I never had a problem with any of it. I’ve known straight and gay people all my life. I can’t tell the difference. People are people where I came from.

      TM: But where you came from was small town Texas in the thirties and forties. Was Abbott more forward-thinking than we give it credit for?

      WN: We were a lot like New York City. [laughs] With shorter buildings.

      Toke more, hate less. Seems to be working out for Willie just fine.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 27, 2015 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Hasn’t ol’ Willie been married about 17 times (all of ’em to women, as best Willie can remember) — or at least that was the guestimate made by his Austin buddy Kinky Friedman, in the Kinkster’s Willie Nelson mystery novel, Roadkill.

      Anyway, Kinky oughta know, since he & Willie also wrote a memoir together, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.

  14. ROBIN
    Posted June 26, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Despite all the things I find fault with our Nation, I still hold a deep belief in its overall wisdom. This past week, my commitment to this country has been renewed. There are times when the darkest moments shed the most clarity of our fortitude as a people. We witnessed the death of 9 African Americans who welcomed as stranger into their ‘home’ only to face the burden of racism, hatred, and extremism. As ugly and tragic as their deaths have been, the incomprehensible loss to their family and friends, as a people we have risen far above the intent of the act. We are witnessing the end of the Civil War, finally. Let us embrace this moment.

    There have been times when faced with such bleakness that I felt little hope. But witnessing our fist President of color, the ability for people to marry independent of religious dogma, and the genesis of the acceptance of atheists have all provided hope that this Nation will survive and live up to the principles laid down by our founders.

    This does not allow for complacency, rather we must continue the charge and raze the intolerance and religious pietism that has plagued the US for so long.

    Perhaps I am naive, but I must hold on to the hope that the recent events promise hope for the future.

  15. Posted June 27, 2015 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Roberts mentions the Aztecs in his dissent. Here’s hoping his court never decides on the constitutionality of sacrificing virgins to volcanoes.

    • Les
      Posted June 27, 2015 at 1:19 am | Permalink

      Ironic, since dissenters in Lawrence v Texas(2003) complained about reference to European law as too foreign.

      • Posted June 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        The response can probably be better modeled finding the correlation between the ruling with its degree of misogyny and homophobia. The xenophobia variable is a more diverse tool.

  16. Alex
    Posted June 27, 2015 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    The poetic sentiment is nice and all, but the claim that those who are denied marriage are *condemned to a life of loneliness* for that reason is just too over the top ridiculous and it reads like a piece of satire for that reason.

    • Tom Snow
      Posted June 27, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      There was a great New Republic piece about that yesterday. I’m not sure I liked that bit either. (Not that I have a problem with anything else in the ruling, of course)

  17. Zetopan
    Posted June 27, 2015 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    “Roberts mentions the Aztecs in his dissent.”

    Oh, the irony! Native North and South Americans, including the Aztecs actually had same sex marriages. For just one example see the Yale Law School “A History of Same Sex Marriage”. Roberts has shown himself to be not just a bigot, but also even ignorant about marriage law history!

    You can download the PDF from:

    • Alex
      Posted June 27, 2015 at 5:08 am | Permalink

      To be fair though, that policy was probably more out of necessity because they tended to throw too many virgins in that volcano ^^

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 27, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    The concluding paragraph you posted is the best one in the majority opinion.

    Justice Kennedy is not by nature a particularly lyrical writer. Clearly, he understood this to be a landmark decision (as the senior Justice in the five-judge majority, he assigned the opinion to himself — no surprise, since he also authored the Court’s opinions in Windsor and Lawrence), and he made a manful effort to write for the ages. But those passages, to my eye and ear at least, come of as somewhat strained, as if Kennedy were grasping for something just beyond his reach. They read as though written by a judge whose head and heart, whose emotion and intellect, are not quite aligned. The effect is rather like Henry James having tried his hand at writing Ulysses before Joyce got to it.

    I’ve read all five opinions issued in the case now, and something that strikes me is not seeing the word “homosexual” used in any of them. The Court, like the country, has come a long way since the 1986 decision upholding Georgia’s anti-sodomy statute, Bowers v. Hardwick, with its obsessive use of the collocation “homosexual sodomy.”

  19. Posted June 28, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Kaleidocyte.

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