Obergefell v. Hodges: In the Obergefell v. Hodges case, groups of same-sex couples sued state governments in order to allow same-sex marriage and recognize those marriages even if they occurred in other states.
The trial court agreed with the argument that such ban violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; however, the United States Court of Appeals reversed the decision stating that the ban didn’t violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The underlying question is if the Fourteenth Amendment required states to allow same-sex marriage and recognize those marriages from other states. The decision was made by Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. In a five to four decision the Court confirmed the trial court’s decision citing the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment previously was used to protect the right for opposite-sex couples to marry. This was because marriage is “inherent to the concept of individual autonomy, it protects the most intimate association between two people, it safeguards children and families by according legal recognition to building a home and raising children, and it has historically been recognized as the keystone of social order” and since these points also apply to same-sex couples banning these marriages would violate both the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In addition, the Court stated that the First Amendment protection of religious freedom doesn’t allow for states to ban same-sex marriages.
While the majority of the Court agreed with the decision a sizable portion of the Court disagreed which shows how the Constitution can be interpreted in many ways with all of them being legitimate. The opposition argued that since same-sex marriage wasn’t in the Constitution and therefore that the states had the right to decide, that the judicial branch is overstepping its powers and overlapping with the legislative branch but now it is by unelected judges which goes against the principle that change should occur through the votes of elected officials, and that there is no precedent for the judicial branch to alter definition of marriage.