Justice Clarence Thomas invokes slavery in dissent on gay marriage | News

Justice Clarence Thomas invokes slavery in dissent on gay marriage

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
  • Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is notorious for his silence. For almost seven years, the conservative justice—an appointee of President George H.W. Bush—did not utter a word from the bench during oral arguments before the court.

Thus, when we are treated to his opinions, they can be surprising and, sometimes, a little bizarre. Case in point: Today's landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the nation's highest court made gay marriage legal across the country.

Thomas took the opportunity to compare the discussion to slavery. Here's the meat of that argument, per Thomas' dissenting opinion:

"The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away."

Read Thomas' full opinion, as well as the opinions of the other justices, here.

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