The Scalia-Walker Convergence


Scalia, dissenting in Lawrence vs Texas:

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Justice O’Connor seeks to preserve them by the conclusory statement that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a legitimate state interest. Ante, at 7. But “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples...

If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,” ante, at 6; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,” ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.

This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court.


Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. FF 76, 79-80; Romer, 517 US at 634 (“[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.”). Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Given the precedents of Romer and given Lawrence, how would Scalia disagree with Walker's logic? More to the point, unless he wants to reverse his own decisions in Romer and Lawrence, how would Anthony Kennedy disagree?

I am increasingly confident that when this case eventually gets to the Supreme Court, the logic of equality will win. Once you have conceded that gay people are a class, and that their sexual orientation is integral to their lives and immutable, and that they are not defined by sex acts that can be performed by gays and straights alike, then the ban on marriage equality is left without anything but an amorphous claim to heterosexual supremacy - or a judicially irrelevant appeal to simple custom (already invalid in five states and many countries) - to support it.

Walker is right. What this comes down to is whether gay people are inferior to straight people, and whether their citizenship is thereby to be deemed inferior as well. The entire weight of the American tradition stands athwart the imposition of a second-class group of people and declares: No!

Know hope.