Breaking Down A Legal Landmark: The Justices' Opinions In Obergefell V. Hodges | St. Louis Public Radio

Breaking Down A Legal Landmark: The Justices' Opinions In Obergefell V. Hodges

Jun 26, 2015
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I have NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson in the studio with me as well. And, Carrie, you were just listening to Professor Primus talk about the dissenting opinion. You know, John Roberts says there might be something for people to celebrate, but there was also some extreme language in some of those dissents.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Well, Justice Antonin Scalia called this majority opinion a threat to democracy, David. And Chief Justice John Roberts a little more moderate but said, in essence, who do we think we are? This is a question for state legislatures, not the U.S. Supreme Court at this time. However, Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, said people can't wait anymore. They have a fundamental right under the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection clauses. Real people are being harmed. Children are being harmed. They shouldn't have to wait anymore for this right to be recognized.

GREENE: What does it tell us that the justices on both sides of this used such lofty, forceful rhetoric?

JOHNSON: I think this was a very big ruling. As you heard from Professor Primus, there was a way for the court to take a narrower approach simply to require states to recognize marriages legally performed in areas where those marriages are already legal, but instead, Justice Kennedy and the five liberal justices carved out a very broad right to marriage, a fundamental right in all 50 states. That's big. That's very big, and it's more or less settled the question under the law, this question. As you heard from Professor Primus, there may be some fighting. It's not over yet there in the lower courts and in statehouses.

GREENE: OK. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, thanks a lot. She's one of the many voices that you'll be hearing today on the air and also reading online as we cover a huge decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision this morning that same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States of America. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.