Bench Memos

A Round-Up of Reactions

The indefatigable Ed Whelan continues his insightful dissection, below, of what the Supreme Court did to the rule of law yesterday in the same-sex marriage cases (especially Windsor).  Here I will highlight some other reactions our readers might miss outside this page, and then I may be back later with some further thoughts of my own.

First, here at NRO, there’s John Fund’s concern about what the majority in the Hollingsworth case did to the legal integrity of the initiative process in those states, like California, that place legislative (and constitution-amending) power directly in the hands of the people.

National Review’s editors note how five justices (in Windsor) saw fit to take a side in the culture war over marriage, and the wrong side at that.  And a baker’s dozen of experts look ahead, for NRO readers, at what is in store now for the debate over marriage.

Rich Lowry’s column at Politico is must reading, zeroing in on the contempt Justice Kennedy evidently feels for the millions of his fellow citizens who disagree with him about marriage.

Political theorist Micah Watson laments the collapse of our elected officials’ sense of responsibility to the law and to their oaths, when governors and presidents and attorneys general think that winning is everything and the rule of law is nothing.  At SCOTUSBlog, Law professor Helen Alvaré observes how arbitrarily the Court has proceeded to make a ruin of family law, redefining “the meaning of marriage in nearly entirely adult-centric terms.”  Fellow law prof (and Bench Memorandist) Gerry Bradley asks, “is the states’ freedom to choose ‘conjugal’ marriage safe from the reasoning of Windsor?” And William Duncan of the Marriage Law Foundation notes that the Windsor ruling “reads like a result in search of a reason.”

I have my own take on the rulings at the First Things website, noting that “it could have been worse” but we have our work cut out for us.  And my colleagues Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George have more to say on the rulings, and much more on the kind of work we must undertake, in an essay at Public Discourse today.  Ryan in particular was everywhere yesterday, on the air, online, you name it.  He and I were both on the air with Bill Bennett this morning, and if you missed it and are signed up for podcasts, you can still listen in.


Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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