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Justice Alito highlights continued 'danger' of Supreme Court's same-sex 'marriage' ruling for religious Americans
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Justice Alito highlights continued 'danger' of Supreme Court's same-sex 'marriage' ruling for religious Americans

For nearly a decade, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has seen his concerns over the possible fallout of the court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges manifest in various ways, both in the public and private spheres.

In a statement Tuesday, the conservative justice renewed his criticism, stressing that the controversial 2015 decision continues to threaten and adversely impact religious Americans — particularly those who remain steadfast in their conviction that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman.

What's the background?

Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee outlasted much of the nation in maintaining that marriage was a union between one man and one woman. Plaintiffs in the four states filed lawsuits, which ultimately culminated in Obergefell v. Hodges, heard by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Liberal justices determined in their 5-4 ruling that the right to marry is guaranteed to non-straight couples by the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Alito joined Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in stressing that there was no textual basis in the Constitution or corresponding history for precluding states from developing their own definitions of marriage. The conservative justices also indicated that the majority changed the focus from what the four states were constitutionally required to do to what they supposedly should do.

Extra to indicating that the court's liberal majority adopted a "distinctively postmodern" understanding of liberty and accepted an eudaemonistic concept of marriage — one divorced from any traditional understanding — Alito stressed that the decision "usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter their traditional understanding of marriage."

"It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy," wrote Alito.

"In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women," continued the conservative justice. "The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent."

Alito underscored that "those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools."

Foreseen consequences

The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear the case Missouri Department of Corrections v. Jean Finney, concerning whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects jurors from being dismissed on the basis of stereotypes about religious views and whether, again in the context of jury selection, the amendment protects "both religious status and religious belief, religious status only, or neither," reported SCOTUSblog.

Finney, a lesbian employee of the Missouri Department of Corrections, alleged that after starting a non-straight relationship with a co-worker's former spouse, the co-worker made life and work difficult for her. She sued the MDOC, alleging it was responsible for her co-worker's actions.

The New York Times noted that during jury selection, Finney's lawyer grilled potential jurors about whether they attended a "conservative Christian church," particularly one that was not all in on the LGBT agenda. The lawyer proceeded to strike off two jurors on the basis of their responses, prompting concerns about religious discrimination.

Ultimately, the jury — purged of religious Americans with orthodox views — sided with Finney. The MDOC appealed, and the case then got kicked up to the Supreme Court's attention at the request of the Office of the Missouri Attorney General.

Justice Alito's renewed concern

Justice Alito wrote Tuesday that while he reluctantly agreed the court "should not grant certiorari in this case, which is complicated by a state-law procedural issue[,] ... I am concerned that the lower court's reasoning may spread and may be a foretaste of things to come."

The conservative justice noted that "the court below reasoned that a person who still holds traditional religious views on questions of sexual morality is presumptively unfit to serve on a jury in a case involving a party who is a lesbian."

"That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges," continued Alito, "namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be 'labeled as bigots and treated as such' by the government."

Alito cast doubt on whether the Missouri Court of Appeals, which affirmed the religious jurors' dismissals, respected their "fundamental rights," including the right to the free exercise of religion and the right to the equal protection of laws.

"When a court, a quintessential state actor, finds that a person is ineligible to serve on a jury because of his or her religious beliefs, that decision implicates fundamental rights," wrote Alito, adding that state actions that single out the religious for disfavored treatment must survive the most rigorous scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause.

Alito suggested that unless the jurors were somehow incapable of deciding the case "based on the law and the evidence," which the lower courts and Finney's lawyer apparently failed to demonstrate, he would "see no basis for dismissing a juror for cause base on religious beliefs."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News. He lives in a small town with his wife and son, moonlighting as an author of science fiction.
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