From Jay Michaelson writing at the Daily Beast:
In controversial cases, is the role of jurist to inflame controversy, or quell it?
In Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case which found race-based marriage bands unconstitutional, Chief Justice Earl Warren built a 9-0 consensus—just as he’d done years earlier in Brown vs. Board of Education. He knew that a country divided by race ought to be united, if possible, by a Supreme Court mindful of fundamental values—even if the Court was, as the constitution requires, overturning the will of the majority.
The four dissents in the landmark case on same-sex marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, one by each of the conservative justices on today’s Supreme Court, take a very different view. With invective and hyperbole, they pour fuel on the fire of the controversy over same-sex marriage. Rather than merely state their views and disagreements, they use heated language to accuse the five-person majority of imperialism, a “putsch,” and worse.
Thus, the unprecedented calls of elected officials for open revolt against the Supreme Court—a shocking display of treason—are now accompanied by calls from within the Court itself that Obergefell is illegitimate, and the Supreme Court itself no longer worthy of full respect.
Why not just tell the Religious Right to buy pitchforks and blowtorches? Chief Justice Roberts’ ironic opinion is immoderate in alleging immoderacy, extreme in alleging extremism.
Justice Scalia came next. And he begins thus: “I join THE CHIEF JUSTICE’s opinion in full. I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”
It seems inevitable that rhetoric like this will stir the next Confederate flag-waving zealot to an act of, if not domestic terrorism, at least outrageous revolt. How could it be otherwise?