SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples had a Constitutionally-protected right to marry. It has been considered a closed issue since then but new comments coming from the bench suggest the struggle for same-sex marriage might not be over.
The comments Monday came as a shock on the first day of the new Supreme Court session. Justice Clarence Thomas, who rarely speaks at all, issued a joint statement with Justice Samuel Alito, that the Court’s 2015 ruling “read a right to same-sex marriage…even though that right is found nowhere in the text” of the Constitution. He wrote it had “ruinous consequences for religious liberty” of those who might object.
“But what I’m hearing from Thomas and from Alito is, we want to take another look at that,” said retired judge, LaDoris Cordell. “We just want to take another look at whether or not that’s on Constitutionally-sound grounds and the court can do it if there’s a case that gives them the opportunity to do it.”
Judge Cordell believes Justice Thomas’s comments are an open invitation to opponents of gay marriage to begin filing lawsuits.
“By just questioning it, they are inviting people to get some litigation going that will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to again look at the issue,” she said.
With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, conservatives may soon have a 6-3 majority on the Court and the power to amend or even reverse the ruling, which Justice Thomas wrote, “created a problem that only it can fix.”
In 2015, they were literally dancing in the streets of San Francisco. Tuesday the mood in the Castro District was somber.
“It really is very heartbreaking,” said San Francisco resident Sacred Mitchell, “to know that something like that could possibly be overturned and almost like they were waiting to do that.”
“We fought for this for 11 years and we’re going to have to go back and fight some more?” asked John Lewis.
John Lewis and his husband Stuart Gaffney were among the first to marry in 2008 by order of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. They felt the issue was settled in 2015 when the Court affirmed the right to marry for same-sex couples, nationwide.
“It’s very scary for justices in the highest court in the land to be revealing their inner thoughts in this way,” said Gaffney, “that they’re staying up at night thinking about how to take away rights from law-abiding loving couples.”
Traditionally, the Court has been reluctant to radically overturn its own rulings, but in today’s superheated political climate, observers say anything is possible.