Justice Anthony Kennedy used to be one of my more unfavorable justices on the High Tribunal, but his majority opinion for Obergefell v. Hodges completely altered my views on him. He never mentioned “same-sex marriage”, instead he used only “marriage”, signifying an equal status of the two–heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage.
In his flavorful and carefully written closing statement, Justice Kennedy rebuked the idea that people censure same-sex marriage because it violated the fundamental concept of marriage as being heterodoxical, and upheld that a same-sex marriage carries the same weight as an opposite-sex marriage does, with the same bounding between two partners. In his closing statement, he argues that not only the petitioners in this case respect marriage, they “respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.”
Obergefell ruling, probably the most controversial in the century, generated a social effect so profound similar to that of Roe v. Wade. Justice Kennedy, who is usually viewed as a conservative, acted unusually liberal in this ruling. He drafted the majority opinion that, in my opinion, has as much literary merits as it has legal values.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family;” Justice Kennedy made an assetation that marriage has a fundamental position in our hearts and represents an American value that a marriage is more than just “two persons coming together to form a union.” Instead, “in forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” This is demonstrated in the particular case that James Obergefell and his partner went across state borders to get a marriage certificate in Maryland, before his partner’s death. In order to get his marriage recognized in Ohio and on the death certificate of John Arthur, Obergefell’s partner, Obergefell petitioned the State of Ohio in a federal district court, and subsequently appealed to United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. The Circuit Court denied his appeal; tenaciously believing that justice will prevail, Obergefell petitioned for certiorari and the Supreme Court of the United States decided to hear his case.
In a 5-4 majority ruling, justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “as some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.” Legacies of James Obergefell, who is now a civil rights activist, and Justice Kennedy and four other justices joining his opinion, will remain. There should be no liberal or conservative in the judiciary, only justice.
“Obergefell v. Hodges.” Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech, n.d. Mar 29, 2016.
Boxer, Sarah A. “Meet the Plaintiff at the Heart of a Supreme Court Case That Could Legalize Same-sex Marriage Nationwide.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.