WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said that Obergefell v. Hodges had “ruinous consequences for religious liberty” after the court refused an appeal by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.
According to Reuters, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal by Davis who is trying to avoid two lawsuits that accuse her of violating people’s constitutional rights.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Davis could be sued in her individual capacity in her former role as county clerk, the news service reported. The 6th Circuit rejected her argument that she is protected by qualified immunity, which can shield government officials from liability in certain cases.
Thomas and Alito, the two most conservative members of the court, decried the treatment of Davis over marriage equality, while still agreeing to deny the appeal. In an opinion released by the court, Thomas wrote that Obergefell risked the religious liberty of people who opposed it and allowed them to be “vilified as bigots.”
Alito co-signed the opinion.
Thomas called Davis the first “victim” of the court’s decision. “Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws,” Thomas wrote. “It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process, with the people deciding not to provide statutory protections for religious liberty under state law.”
He stated that the decision allowed courts and governments to call religious people “bigots” for “refusing to alter their religious beliefs in the wake of prevailing orthodoxy.”
Thomas called marriage equality a “novel constitutional right” that went against the exercise of religion under the First Amendment. He ended the opinion saying the “Court has created a problem that only it can fix. Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’ ”
Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings said the “nightmare” of a hostile SCOTUS had arrived. “The confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett haven’t even started yet and Justices Thomas and Alito are already creating a laundry list of cases they want to overturn,” Jennings said in a statement. “And unsurprisingly, marriage equality is first on the chopping block. Confirming Judge Barrett would be the final puzzle piece they need in order to make it happen.”