WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling June 26 upholding equal marriage rights for same-sex couples came just hours after their similar split decisions upholding Obamacare and the Fair Housing Act.
All three rulings touched off celebrations by tens of millions of progressive-minded people across the United States – a majority of the people. And the string of decisions cast a pall of gloom over right-wing Republicans.
Especially grim were the Republican candidates for president who all vowed to continue their war against marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, and anti-discrimination measures in general.
President Obama hailed the marriage equality ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy for affirming “what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts.” He added, “We have made our union a little more perfect.”
Just a day earlier, the president greeted the Supreme Court’s historic 6-3 ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. Five years ago, Obama said, Congress approved health care reform, upholding the notion “that health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all.” He added, “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
The health care ruling upheld the legality of the system of federal subsidies for low-income people enrolled in Obamacare in the 34 states that have refused to establish state-run “exchanges.” Written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the decision broadly upholds the ACA statute as a whole rather than focusing narrowly on parts of the law.
Officials had foreseen disaster if the court had ruled against Obamacare, predicting that premiums for millions of recipients would have doubled or tripled. Many would have been forced to drop insurance completely. Some predicted that the system would collapse.
Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, greeted all three rulings. The equal marriage decision, he said, “should be celebrated by everyone who cares about equality for LGBT people. …Today’s ruling is one for the history books.”
On the decision upholding the Fair Housing Act, Keegan pointed out that it was approved in 1968 just days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “stands as a tribute to his work and legacy.” The racist massacre at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C., last week, Keegan added, “makes perfectly clear, our nation’s long struggle with racism is far from over.”
Keegan likewise hailed the ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act but added, “in a sane court system, there is no way this case would have made it to the court, let alone receive the support of three justices.”
He stressed, “This decision should be a reminder of how much is at stake in our nation’s highest court and how critical it is that Americans consider the Supreme Court as we choose our next president.”
The keenest hope of the ultra-right is that they seize control of the White House in 2016 so that a tea party Republican chooses the next Supreme Court justice. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the staunchest liberals on the high court, is in frail health.
Human Rights Campaign, the largest organization “fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights,” hailed the high court’s ruling. HRC immediately sent messages to the 13 states that still outlaw marriage equality “to take immediate action to ensure that all justices of the peace begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible couples,” warning that refusal to grant licenses to same-sex couples “allows the discriminatory impacts of an un-Constitutional law to continue.”
Photo: Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., left, sings the National Anthem after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States, June 26. Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Mark Uhen, in glasses, Bill Cutter, and Thea Kano, far right, led the song. (Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)