Obergefell v. Hodges

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 26, 2015
  • Case #: 14-556
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA, J., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry in every state.

Petitioners, same-sex couples, brought suit under the Fourteenth Amendment in Michigan and Kentucky challenging the denial of their right to marry in Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky challenging their home state's refusal to recognize their lawful marriages from another state. The petitioners won all of the district court cases, but the decisions were reversed by the Sixth Circuit, which held that Respondent states did not have to license marriages for same-sex couples or recognize marriage licenses issued in other states.

The Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the Fourteenth Amendment in all states. The Court first addressed the "transcendent importance of marriage" and that "marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and needs" in human history and today. The Court recognized the substantial burden placed on same-sex couples who were not allowed to experience the benefits of marriage.

The Court applied four premises found in past decisions related to marriage when deciding same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry: the right to personal choice in marriage, the right to a two-person union between committed individuals, the right to create a home to bring up children, and the recognition that marriage is a "keystone of our social order." The Court also explained that the right to marry is both a right granted from the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.

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