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Saturday, May 6, 2017

ONE VOICE: LOST IN CHORUS


Supreme Court, Wikipedia

NOTE: Majority as referenced in dissents below refers to five Supreme Court judges who have ruled, in a divided court, in favor of Obergefell v. Hodges. No. 14–556. Argued April 28, 2015—Decided June 26, 2015*

Roberts Supreme Court, Wikipedia

In October 2014 term, on 26 June 2015, five judges of the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that “the State laws challenged by Petitioners . . . are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples” ( p.23) … and that, “same sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States” (p.28).

I disagree with these rulings.

I am one voice, only one …in an undiminished chorus of voices.

The Authority of the Law statue, Supreme Court Building

My grandmother, Elna Bohne Campbell, sang in a church choir. My mother begged to go with her and sing too. She loves to sing, but could not join the choir before she became the required age of nine. Rules have reason, and provide order.

Elna Bohne Campbell

I remember mother singing. She knows all the words to almost all the hymns and many folk songs. She taught us, her 10 children, to sing – together. One child had a quiet voice and retiring personality. My voice is naturally loud! It can be easily heard without a microphone – when I whisper.

My mother, as an older child

Each of us is a bit different.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts
So too are the opinions of the voices
     . . . on all sides of this issue.

Many, many other voices are similar to mine.

How many? According to the Chief Justice C. J. Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court, “tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage” (Roberts, C.J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; p. 28).

I blend my voice with theirs. We dissent.

Our voices join four of the nine Supreme Court judges who dissented in our behalf. (See quotes below).

Our family often sang together. Mom and Dad taught that every voice should be able to be heard. I needed both their voices.

From them, we learned that every person is of value; each deserves kindness and respect. I learned to modulate my voice so that it was part of the whole. These practices bound us together. It built something otherwise impossible to achieve.

If one voice in a choir fails to blend with surrounding voices, all may notice and hear that voice. It may seem dominant, but is merely out of harmony. It sets itself apart, but not in desirable ways.

If it continues unabated, oblivious to the rest of the chorus, or the harmonies of the choir, it is destructive to self and to the whole. Every voice is needed, and each must learn how to contribute—each to be part of the whole.

All voices have rights. I have rights! Your rights do not negate mine, and mine do not negate yours, and neither of our voices negate the rights or needs of coming generations. Every child needs both biological parents.

We are all a single chorus, the chorus of humanity, and must learn to sing together.

It is, always, a sorry day when men and women require legislatures and courts to instruct them regarding kindness, respect, or other social graces. Judges and politicians then force divergent opinions to be imposed for almost everyone.

When I feel all is lost, and perhaps alone, one of my favorite songs learned from my mother, helps me remember to look forward with good cheer.

SING YOUR WAY HOME

Sing your way home
At the close of the day...
Sing your way home,
Drive the shadows away.
Smile every mile
For wherever you roam
It will brighten your road,
It will lighten your load,
If you sing your way home.

We can learn to sing together.

Dissents from:

“JUSTICE [SAMUEL A] ALITO,

with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.

“Today’s decision [26 June 2015] shows that decades of attempts to restrain [the Supreme] Court’s abuse of its authority have failed. A lesson . . . it evidences is the deep and perhaps irremediable corruption of our legal culture’s conception of constitutional interpretation.

“Most Americans—understandably—will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue . . . . But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority's claim of power portends”(Alito, J., dissenting; 576 U.S.___ 2015; pp.7-8;).


“JUSTICE [CLARENCE] THOMAS,

  with whom JUSTICE SCALIA joins, dissenting.

“The majority’s decision today [26 June 2015]. . . distorts the constitutional text, which guarantees only whatever ‘process’ is ‘due’ before a person is deprived of life, liberty, and property. Worse, it invites judges to do exactly what the majority has done here—‘“roa[m] at large in the constitutional field” guided only by their personal views’ as to the ‘“fundamental rights”’ protected by that document.  By straying from the text of the Constitution, substantive due process exalts judges at the expense of the People from whom they derive their authority.

“Petitioners . . . ask nine judges on this Court to enshrine their definition of marriage in the Federal Constitution and thus put it beyond the reach of the normal democratic process for the entire Nation. That a 'bare majority' of this Court, ante, at 25, is able to grant this wish, wiping out with a stroke of the keyboard the results of the political process in over 30 States, based on a provision that guarantees only 'due process' is but further evidence of the danger of substantive due process” (Thomas, J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; pp. 2-3).

“JUSTICE [ANTONIN] SCALIA,

with whom JUSTICE THOMAS joins, dissenting.

“I join THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion in full. I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy. . . .[I]t is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree [26 June 2015] says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves. . . . This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; (Scalia, J., dissenting; 576 U.S.___ 2015; pp.1-5). 

“[W]hat really astounds is the hubris[i] reflected in today’s judicial Putsch[ii]  . The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that . . .[t]hey have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since” 
(Scalia, J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; pp.6-7).


“CHIEF JUSTICE [JOHN G] ROBERTS,

with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.

Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise ‘neither force nor will but merely judgment.’ . . . The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. … It seizes for itself a question the Constitution leaves to the people, at a time when the people are engaged in a vibrant debate on that question. And it answers that question based not on neutral principles of constitutional law, but on its own ‘understanding of what freedom is and must become.’” Ante, at 19 (Roberts, C. J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; pp. 2-3)

Our cases have consistently refused to allow litigants to convert the shield provided by constitutional liberties into a sword to demand positive entitlements from the State. . . . The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it” (Roberts, C. J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; p. 18).

“When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the results. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are—in the tradition of our political culture—reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate. In addition, they can gear up to raise the issue later, hoping to persuade enough on the winning side to think again. ‘That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.’ Post, at 2–3 (SCALIA, J., dissenting)” (Roberts, C. J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; p. 26).

“But today the Court puts a stop to all that. By deciding this question under the Constitution, the Court removes it from the realm of democratic decision. . . . Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. They have constitutional power only to resolve concrete cases or controversies; they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right” (Roberts, C.J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; pp. 26-27).

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. . . . The majority reiterates such characterizations over and over . . . to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted. Ante, at 19” (Roberts, C.J., dissenting; 576 U.S. ___ 2015; pp. 27-28).

*Decisions in conjunction with three other cases also on certiorari[iii] to the same court.




[i] hubris: contemptuous, wanton insolence
[ii] judicial Putsch: a suddenly executed overthrow
[iii] certiorari: request to higher court from lower courts claiming injustice

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