Opponents of marriage equality on
Wednesday lauded Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, predicting it
would lead to the overturning of Obergefell, in which the
Supreme Court found that gay and lesbian couples have a
constitutional right to marry.
In a letter to President Donald Trump,
Kennedy, 81, informed the president that July 31 would be his last
day on the high court.
“For a member of the legal profession
it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court,” Kennedy wrote.
While Kennedy was nominated to the
court by President Ronald Reagan, he has been the swing vote on many
controversial decisions. Kennedy authored majority opinions in four
key cases on LGBT rights, including Obergefell and Lawrence,
which struck down state sodomy laws in the United States.
“Justice Kennedy literally
transformed the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in
America,” James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties
Union's LGBT and HIV Project, told The Washington Post. “He
transformed us from criminals in the eyes of the law to having the
freedom to marry the people we love most in the world. There are few
civil rights journeys as sweeping or as fast, and Justice Kennedy was
a key part of that.”
Trump has said that he will pick a
conservative justice to replace Kennedy.
The news pushed marriage equality foes
into overdrive, who predicted that without Kennedy the court would
reverse itself on Obergefell.
“It will give us a legitimate
opportunity to remove the lie of same-sex ‘marriage’ that was
illegitimately imposed on the nation,” NOM President Brian Brown
said in a fundraising email to supporters. “A constitutionalist
like [Neil] Gorsuch replacing Kennedy also will greatly strengthen
legal recognition of a vast array of religious liberty rights, not to
mention the pro-life cause, and the fight for recognition of the
truth of gender.”
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the
Liberty Counsel, called Kennedy's retirement a “turning point”
“If Justice Kennedy is replaced with
a person who is faithful to the original text and meaning of the
Constitution, then it is just a matter of time before several
horrible decisions are reversed, including abortion and same-sex
marriage,” Staver said in a statement.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate,
warned that Kennedy's retirement should “serve as a wakeup call for
every pro-equality voter in America.”
“Trump wants a Supreme Court nominee
who will undermine progress we've made on affordable health care,
LGBTQ equality, Roe and more. The American people don't –
and they should have an opportunity to say so at the ballot box in
November. The 2018 midterm elections just became the most
consequential election of our lifetime. We must keep organizing,
mobilizing, and holding lawmakers to account every single day – and
then we need to turn out like never before this November,” Griffin
said in a statement.