Russell Moore and Andrew Walker have listed the top 10 questions they heard yesterday during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on gay marriage.
Here they are:
- Chief Justice Roberts asked whether expanding marriage to include gay couples would lead to marriage’s redefinition.
- Justice Kennedy expressed concern about whether it was prudent for the Supreme Court to step in and change the definition of an institution that was as old, to use his language as “millennia.” In short, he asked whether it was is imprudent and unwise to suggest that the Supreme Court knows better than ancient history and its belief about marriage.
- Justice Alito expressed skepticism at the idea that traditional or biblical marriage “demeans” gay people. He asked the lawyer in support of same-sex marriage whether that was a “primary purpose.”
- Along this same line of questioning, Justice Alito observed that while ancient cultures like Greece embraced homosexuality, they still held marriage as distinct. He asked, “So their limiting marriage to couples of the opposite sex was not based on prejudice against gay people, was it?”
- Justice Breyer hinted at perhaps the most important aspect of this particular case: Letting the states decide. He suggested that this debate is working itself out in the states, asking why not “wait and see whether in fact doing so in other states is or is not harmful to marriage?”
- Because marriage policy should always be based on sound principle, Justice Alito questioned whether redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would allow polygamous couples to marry. He asked: “What would be the logic of denying them the same right?”
- Referencing Bob Jones University’s wrong and sinful banning of interracial dating, Alito asked whether redefining marriage would eventually pose risks (such as the loss of tax-exempt status) to the religious liberty of religious institutions.
- Several of the Court’s more liberal justices pressed what the actual harms are of same-sex marriage. They seemed insistent that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples will not result in tangible harms to society. In short, they thought the state lacked sufficient purpose to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Along the same lines, they argued that there are “dignitary harms” of denying children the opportunity to grow up in a married same-sex household.
- Justice Sotomayor stated that marriage is a right embedded in the Constitution. Her question was how to continue exercising that right and finding a just cause for excluding some groups from marrying and not others.
- Justice Ginsberg questioned the attorney defending traditional marriage whether a procreative definition of marriage required prohibiting 70-year olds from marrying (on the biological assumption that elderly individuals cannot and will not procreate).
For Moore and Walker’s answers to and interaction with these questions, you can read the whole thing.
Ryan Anderson, who was inside the Court, also provides an excellent analysis.
You can access the transcripts and audio of the historic day of argumentation below: