The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of Kim Davis, the former Kentucky county clerk who came under fire for refusing to grant same-sex marriage licenses because of her sincerely held religious beliefs.
Although Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with the court’s decision because of the specific facts of the case, the justices used the opportunity to reiterate warnings about the potential consequences of the Obergefell ruling, a 5-4 decision in 2015 that recognized same-sex marriage as being constitutionally protected, Fox News reported.
Warnings about the ruling have become a reality
While Thomas and Alito agreed not to take up Davis’ case because it did not “cleanly present” important questions about “the scope of our decision in Obergefell,” the justices said the petition “provides a stark reminder of the consequences of Obergefell.”
In a four-page opinion from Thomas and Alito, the justices noted that the Obergefell decision was not based in the Constitution, and actually threatens the constitutionally protected religious liberty of “the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman.”
Despite lip service from the majority in Obergefell about accommodating “decent and honorable” people with sincerely held religious beliefs, the justices argued the majority opinion served to “suggest that those beliefs espoused a bigoted worldview.”
In his dissent on the ruling in 2015, Thomas warned the decision would result in those who oppose same-sex marriage being “vilified.”
Now, five years later, the justices pointed out that in the case of Davis and others “those predictions did not take long to become reality.”
It’s now a problem only the court can fix
Because of Obergefell, the justices explained, Davis was forced to choose between her faith and her job, and as a result of prioritizing her religious beliefs, she was sued and became “one of the first victims of this Court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision.”
Instead of being decided by the Supreme Court for the entire nation, the justices said the definition of marriage should have been left up to the states.
“If the states had been allowed to resolve this question through legislation, they could have included accommodations for those who hold these religious beliefs,” they wrote.
Instead, “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 and Alito said.
The justices concluded, “Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.'”