King: The Court Slides Towards Gomorrah
by Stephen M. King, Ph.D.
A dismal future for traditional marriage was predicted by two events in 1996. That future has arrived.
First, Robert Bork, a federal judge and former Solicitor General, wrote “Slouching Towards Gomorrah.” Therein he all but predicted that American culture and society would continue to slide into moral oblivion, causing the collapse of American institutions and structures of authority and morality. Nothing short of a moral revolution would stem the tide, he warned.
Second, the popular journal of religion and political life, First Things, published a symposium, attended by some of the Right’s leading intellectuals, prophesying the “end of democracy.” It cited the diminution of moral values, ethical clarity and sustained constitutionalism, the latter coming as a result of what the authors decried as the super-imposition of federal judicial writ vis-à-vis the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court was declared a judicial apostate, having abandoned and renounced any legal connection to upholding the principles of the Constitution. Instead, the judges were accused of replacing objective and rule-bound interpretation and understanding of the Constitution with unfettered judicial ideology, effectively becoming an oligarchy. The liberal justices were declared nothing less than usurpers of the original intent of the Constitution. The symposium held them up as the harbingers of a societal decay to come.
Fast forward to February 2015: Alabama becomes the latest state to be forced to recognize gay marriage. It takes a judicial merry-go-round to pull it off — one federal judicial order followed by a reverse state order followed in turn by one more federal order — but, in the end, most counties in Alabama begin issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
In a dissenting opinion prior to the Court’s hearing on a forthcoming case involving four states’ bans on gay marriage, justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia roundly criticize their liberal brethren and the lack of judicial objectivity. Thomas writes: “This acquiescence may well be a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question.” Scalia argues against denying states their sovereign authority to govern their citizens’ affairs. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg implies in a related interview that, because of the shift in public opinion on the question of the legality of same-sex marriage, the Court must shift,carte too.
So, what does this tell us?
The Supreme Court has made up its mind. It will rule against the continuation of state bans on gay marriage. The Court will likely argue that denying same-sex couples the right to marry effectively denies a minority group its 14th Amendment’s constitutional right to equal protection of the laws. The result will provide carte blanche in regard to overturning the remaining 14 states’ bans on same-sex marriages and the institution of full legal recognition of same-sex marriages in all states.
The contending responses are predictable. Same-sex marriage advocates will declare this the greatest victory since the height of the civil-rights era, perhaps even arguing that this victory supersedes that of Selma and Montgomery, that this is a victory for the emancipation of the human body as well as soul.
Proponents of traditional marriage will decry the ruling as the culmination of the moral depravity of mankind himself. They will cite this ruling as the Court caving to the prurient interests of a minority population and majority public opinion that favors same-sex marriages.
And legal originalists will cite the decision in favor of solidifying ideology and political values over objective constitutional interpretation. Ultimately, they will argue the Court ceases to retain its image of fidelity and objectivity, and that ultimately the public’s confidence and trust in the Court itself will greatly deteriorate.
The Founders were not soothsayers, but they understood the measure and depth of human nature. They understood that the foundational institutions of traditional marriage and family were critical to the development and continuation of society itself. Without these institutions remaining intact as the natural order of law and society dictated, the unraveling of humankind will continue unabated.
We are no longer slouching towards Gomorrah, we have slid into its abyss.
Stephen M. King, Ph.D., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, holds the R. Philip Loy Endowed Chair of Political Science at Taylor University.