Pandora’s Box: SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Ruling – What’s Next?

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Granted this decision is framed within the context of marriage, but the wording and implications of the ruling have far reaching ramifications. By attributing the 14th Amendment to “personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs,” rather than just the defined rights outlined in the Bill of Rights, it opens the door to endless possibilities. The wording is obviously aimed at issues such as “lifestyle choices” and “gender identity,” however those concepts have a much broader application as well.

Amendment XIV

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Let’s talk about “individual dignity and autonomy” for a moment. Does the phrase “death with dignity” ring a bell? Assisted suicide has been an emotional subject of debate for some time now in America. Five states currently have assisted suicide protections in the law and “personal choices central to individual dignity” could certainly come into play in that regard. While the Constitution has no specific guarantee to “death with dignity,” neither does it have any express protection for the “right to marry” that weighed so heavily in the Justice’s same-sex marriage decision.

Assisted suicide does not have any licensing or benefits attached to it by the state, as marriage does, although it is very much a “dignity and autonomy” issue. As for “licensing and benefits,” another issue that has been raised is that of the “right to carry” as in concealed/open/constitutional carry as well as interstate reciprocity. Carry laws across the nation vary widely with a patchwork of reciprocity agreements, but as an “autonomy” issue, bolstered by an actual Bill of Rights amendment, the “right to keep and bear arms” which “shall not be infringed” would be a more apt application of the 14th amendment than either marriage or assisted suicide. It could easily be argued that denial of a citizen’s right to BEAR ARMS in public deprives that citizen of their right to life, liberty and/or property by denying that citizen the ability to protect those things. The first rule of nature being self-preservation, “life” is unduly endangered by infringing upon the means of self-preservation. “Liberty” is only maintained by the ability to defend it against abuse and oppression. You only truly own or possess that “property” which you can protect.

By extending 14th amendment “privileges and immunities” to issues of dignity, autonomy and beliefs, the Supreme Court has opened a Pandora’s Box of issues such as polygamy, drug legalization, assisted suicide, constitutional carry and a whole host of other issues, as well as undermining, if not eliminating, state’s rights protections guaranteed in the 10th amendment. What is legally recognized in ONE state should apply to all 50 states under equal protection, right?

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution (which marriage was not) nor prohibited by it to the states (which marriage was not) are reserved to the states (which this ruling undermines) or to the people (who have always had the ability to define “marriage” anyway they see fit). It is only the governmental recognition and benefits that are at stake here, which begs the question…

Should this ruling stand, acting as a precedent for the other issues raised here, or should the institution of marriage be removed from the purview of government altogether and returned to the people themselves? Is this Pandora’s Box that will end the idea of Federalism (our system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government, state and federal) resulting in the completion of a single centralized all-powerful federal government with no individual state autonomy?

Read the Full Decision (Majority Ruling and Dissent)

About the Author

Jon Britton
Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid "people watcher," political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.