On Monday, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito called for the overturning of Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized marriage equality in all 50 states in 2015.
The opinion was issued in conjunction with the court’s denial of a petition from Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to her religious beliefs.
In the opinion, Thomas and Alito declared that the Supreme Court must overturn the right to marriage equality in order to protect freedom of speech and religious liberty.
According to Thomas, who wrote the statement, Obergefell “bypassed” the democratic process and vilified “people of good will as bigots for merely refusing to alter their religious beliefs.”
“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,” Thomas wrote.
Despite rejecting her case, he called Kim Davis “one of the first victims” of marriage equality, claiming that Obergefell has made it “increasingly difficult” for people to uphold their religious beliefs and simultaneously “participate in society.”
Thomas also argued that the Supreme Court should never have “forced” the landmark decision onto American society by “altering” the Constitution, falsely claiming that, in doing so, the court has imposed restraints on the Free Exercise Clause.
“By choosing to privilege a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the Court has created a problem that only it can fix,” Thomas wrote.
“Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’”
Of course this is all a straw man argument. Obergefell is not a threat to the First Amendment or religious freedom. The landmark decision simply gives same-sex couples the right to marry.
In fact, much of Thomas and Alito’s opinion relies solely on the fear that bigots might be called out by name. Not only is that hardly a reason to take away people’s constitutional rights, but it’s also protected by freedom of speech.
The only way Obergefell would have “ruinous consequences” is if it were overturned. And with Amy Coney Barrett set to be confirmed to the Supreme Court this month, Alito and Thomas just might get their wish.