A Win For Love

Today the Supreme Court ruled DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional.  Love wins.

The liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause contains within it the prohibition against denying to any person the equal protection of the laws. […] While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved.

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  ~ Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority

 

2 thoughts on “A Win For Love

  1. Discrimination.— “Unlike the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifth contains no equal protection clause and it provides no guaranty against discriminatory legislation by Congress.” 66 At other times, however, the Court assumed that “discrimination, if gross enough, is equivalent to confiscation and subject under the Fifth Amendment to challenge and annulment.” 67 The theory that was to prevail seems first to have been enunciated by Chief Justice Taft, who observed that the due process and equal protection clauses are “associated” and that “[i]t may be that they overlap, that a violation of one may involve at times the violation of the other, but the spheres of the protection they offer are not coterminous. . . . [Due process] tends to secure equality of law in the sense that it makes a required minimum of protection for every one’s right of life, liberty and property, which the Congress or the legislature may not withhold. Our whole system of law is predicated on the general, fundamental principle of equality of application of the law.” 68 Thus, in Bolling v. Sharpe, 69 a companion case to Brown [p.1357] v. Board of Education, 70 the Court held that segregation of pupils in the public schools of the District of Columbia violated the due process clause. “The Fifth Amendment, which is applicable in the District of Columbia, does not contain an equal protection clause as does the Fourteenth Amendment which applies only to the states. But the concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive. The ‘equal protection of the laws’ is a more explicit safeguard of prohibited unfairness than ‘due process of law,’ and, therefore, we do not imply that the two are always interchangeable phrases. But, as this Court has recognized, discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.

  2. The Fourteenth Amendment promises that all persons in the United States shall enjoy the “equal protection of the laws.” This means that they cannot be discriminated against without good reason. All laws discriminate, because governments must make choices about what is lawful. For example, a law that prohibits burglary discriminates against burglars. But the Equal Protection Clause requires that a state have a good reason or a “rational basis” for such choices. In certain areas where there has been a history of past wrongful action—such as discrimination based on race or gender—the state must meet a much higher burden to justify such classifications.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s