Anthony Kennedy’s Retirement Threatens Civil Rights

Anthony Kennedy's Retirement Threatens Civil Rights

Since the ruling came down from the Supreme Court three years and two days ago in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, thousands of marriages have quoted from the last page of the opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. People have it hanging on their walls.

It begins by stating that “No union is more profound than marriage,” and it goes on to explain that people were simply asking for “equal dignity” in the eyes of the law when they sought to have their union recognized by our government.

The opinion also says that the Constitution grants us that right. But now that Justice Kennedy has announced his retirement, it’s hard not to be afraid that it is going to be taken away.

People often think about the legacy they will leave behind. It is difficult to understand how Justice Kennedy can look at our current environment and retire, knowing that his legacy of compassion and dignity, not to mention the civil rights of millions of people, are in serious risk.

Kennedy was the swing vote on not just my case but also decisions like Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. the United States, landmark rulings for LGBTQ Americans.

There is little doubt that the Trump Administration will nominate — and force through — another extremely conservative justice like Neil Gorsuch. And that’s not just bad news for the LGBTQ community. It will most likely set back women’s rights, voting rights, and every marginalized group in this nation who relies upon the Supreme Court to live up to those four words etched into the building’s western pediment: “Equal Justice Under Law.”

The Trump administration is set to “Make America Great Again” by taking away hard fought and won civil rights, and bring this country back to the 1950’s – if not further.

We’ve been down this road before. Religious beliefs were used to justify laws against interracial marriage. Religious beliefs were used to justify keeping the races separate. And that’s the antithesis of religious freedom, a constitutional right that the Supreme Court is in charge of interpreting for the rest of us.

Before his retirement announcement, many saw Kennedy as something of a hero, someone who looked out for civil rights, someone who used compassion in his interpretation of the Constitution.

But with Kennedy’s retirement, there will probably be a backlash that is going to turn into a complete ripping away of every bit of equality — every bit of progress — the nation has made over these decades.

It is such a sad time for America.