The Corner


When There Are No Limiting Principles — Why Not Marry Robots?

The sexual revolution has gotten so extreme that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between an actual argument and click-bait trolling. And so it is with Slate, where Gary Marchant argued yesterday that “humans should be able to marry robots.” No, really. Oddly enough, he made the argument by analyzing Justice Kennedy’s Obergefell opinion as if it contained actual legal reasoning, concluding that robot/human relationships just might fall within its scope:

From a strictly legal perspective, therefore, the court’s decision in Obergefell contains arguments and dicta that could be used to make the case for or against robot-human marriage. Of course, as a practical matter, the legal legitimacy of robot-human marriage is not going to be recognized anytime soon. Most people (including judges) presumably think robot-human relationships are absurd and twisted. But that was once also the case for interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. Of course those advances involved sanctioning the love and relationship of two human beings, regardless of their race or sexual preferences, which is arguably quite distinct from recognizing human-machine marriage. But as robots become more and more humanlike in their appearance and behavior, this distinction may eventually erode away.

Of course Obergefell can be read to encompass machine love. It can be read to encompass virtually any kind of human desire involving consenting adults (or compliant AI). The only limiting principle is the morality of five justices of the Supreme Court. In other wordsif a majority of the Supreme Court believes in a particular form of social change, they’ll make it happen. Legally-recognized Polygamy isn’t imminent, but only because five justices don’t yet see plural marriage as a matter of social justice. As soon as they do, Obergefell gives them all the ammunition they need. But until they do, Obergefell won’t persuade. In reality, the case stands for one principle and one principle only — the justices do what they want.

So, no, men won’t be marrying an iWife anytime soon, but it’s not because of religion, morality, history, or certainly not the Constitution. It’s because the Supreme Court justices will think those men are strange and creepy. That’s what passes for the rule of law in the Supreme Court of the United States.


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