Thurs., June 26, 2003
In consigning these abominable holdovers from poisonous Puritanism to the dustbin of history, the decision corrected one of the gross injustices of our time, the Bowers v. Hardwick decision, which will go down in history alongside such criminal rulings as Plessy v. Ferguson, Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Bush v. Gore. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, summed it up nicely when he said Bowers v. Hardwick "was not correct when it was decided and it is not correct today."
In a larger sense, this ruling couldn't have come at a better time in our history. As the oafish, unelected nightmare presently infesting the White House launches one broadside after another against civil liberties and accountable government[*], the ruling marks off a clear territory beyond which, it says, the government cannot intrude. While these laws were allowed to continue to exist, they were an established precedent which made it all but impossible to make a reasoned argument about limiting the power of government over our personal lives. If, after all, the state could legitimately regulate sexual behavior, what on earth would be considered beyond the reach of its legitimate powers? In our ongoing national discussion on what limits should be placed on the power of the state, today's ruling has helped put the ball back in the court of freedom.
[*] The "President" and his thugs only days ago kidnapped another criminal suspect and dropped him into Bush's "Darkness At Noon" nightmare called "enemy combatant" status.
All wasn't wine and roses with today's ruling, however. There were three dissenters, the usual suspects William Rhenquist, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia. Proving, once again, their unfitness to reign over a local traffic court, much less the U.S. Supreme Court, the three rallied around a Scalia-penned dissent, which, at 21 pages, was longer than the 18-page majority decision. They make nods to the right of state legislatures to pass these sorts of laws, but the heart of their argument, as had been the case of the majority in the Bowers v. Hardwick decision, is simply bigotry. Their "argument," if it can be called that, is that many Americans don't like gay people and have a right to use the law to attack them.
"Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home... They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive."
The majority is accused of having "taken sides in the culture war,"
as though there was (or should be) any such war, outside of the diseased
minds of lunatic reactionaries. Scalia also proves he belongs in that category
himself, "arguing" that "today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional
law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and
homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned."
In a moment of jaw-dropping hypocrisy, Scalia, the "mind" (if one can call
it that) behind Bush v. Gore, accuses the majority of "departing from its
role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement
are observed." All in all, a typically disgraceful performance for the
court's three stooges.
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