Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito derided the court-created establishment of same-sex marraige this week, highlighting how the concerns that it would be used to malign people of faith have come to fruition.
This week, the high court declined to review a lawsuit against Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who was briefly jailed after refusing to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples, WND reports.
In a joint statement issued Monday, the associate justices wrote that Davis “may have been one of the first victims”of the high court’s “cavalier treatment of religion” when the landmark ruling on same-sex marriage was issued, but that “she will not be the last.”
Thomas refered to Davis as a “devout Christian” who “found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job.”
“Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws,” Thomas wrote.
“Moreover, Obergefell enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss.”
However, Thomas and Alito agreed that the Supreme Court should not grant Davis’ appeal, either.
“This petition implicates important questions about the scope of our decision in Obergefell, but it does not cleanly present them,” Thomas wrote.
The Supreme Court’s rejection clears the way for a lawsuit brought by same-sex couples. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled there was a “plausible case” that as a individual she violated their rights.
Davis was appealing a 6th Circuit ruling arguing the law “treats Davis not as one person, but as two: an official and an individual.”
“The doctrine of sovereign immunity shields Davis as an official if, when refusing to issue marriage licenses, she acted on Kentucky’s behalf – but not if she acted on Rowan County’s behalf. And the doctrine of qualified immunity shields Davis as an individual if she didn’t violate plaintiffs’ right to marry or, if she did, if the right wasn’t clearly established when she acted,” the 6th Circuit said.
In his statement on Monday, Thomas explained the implications the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage had on religious liberty.
“Several members of the court noted that the court’s decision would threaten the religious liberty of the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman. If the states had been allowed to resolve this question through legislation, they could have included accommodations for those who hold these religious beliefs,” he wrote.
“The court, however, bypassed that democratic process. Worse still, though it briefly acknowledged that those with sincerely held religious objections to same-sex marriage are often ‘decent and honorable’ … the court went on to suggest that those beliefs espoused a bigoted worldview…”
The four justices who had disagreed with the ruling, indeed, “predicted that ‘these … assaults on the character of fair-minded people will have an effect, in society and in court.'”
“Those predictions did not take long to become reality,” he wrote, pointing to Davis’ case.
“When she began her tenure as clerk, Davis’ sincerely held religious beliefs – that marriage exists between one man and one woman – corresponded with the definition of marriage under Kentucky law,” Thomas said.
Davis created a national sensation and enjoyed support from Christians around the country when she stood her ground, including Elizabeth Johnston and her family, who traveled to Rowan County in 2015 to rally behind her as she was jailed.
Davis, at that time, had lobbied for amendments to state law which would have protected her rights to follow her conscience.
“But those efforts were cut short by this court’s decision,” Thomas explained.
“As a result of this court’s alteration of the Constitution, Davis found herself faced with a choice between her religious beliefs and her job. When she chose to follow her faith, and without any statutory protection of her religious beliefs, she was sued almost immediately.”
“Those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws,” he warned.
The justice pointed to animosity towards Christians within the courts, including “one member of the Sixth Circuit panel in this case [describing] Davis’ sincerely held religious beliefs as ‘anti-homosexual animus.'”
“Since Obergefell, parties have continually attempted to label people of good will as bigots merely for refusing to alter their religious beliefs in the wake of prevailing orthodoxy,” he said.
Obergefell will only continue to issue “ruinous consequences for religious liberty,” he said.
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