Although the U.S. Supreme Court reached the correct result in Obergefell v. Hodges, its substantive due process and equal protection analyses were wrong. First, the majority opinion discusses the concept of equal dignity, which has no legal definition nor has it been used in prior Supreme Court jurisprudence. The majority made another mistake in using substantive due process when Obergefell could have been decided on the basis of equal protection alone.
Despite these mistakes, there were parts of the opinion the Court did decide correctly. The end result -- that same-sex couples have the right to marry -- was the correct outcome. This is based on the fact that the Supreme Court has defined marriage as a fundamental right and banning marriage to same sex couples would be discrimination on the part of the government. While the majority was also correct in overruling the prior method of defining fundamental rights set forth by Glucksberg, the Court should not have made defining fundamental rights so unlimited in scope. Justice Kennedy removed the prior standard for defining fundamental rights without creating a new standard for judges to follow in the future, leaving the future of substantive due process cases uncertain. This neglect to implement a new standard to replace Glucksberg’s standard leaves substantive due process open to judicial interpretation. The Court also came close, but still neglected, to create a quasi-suspect class on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court should have created standards that were not so overly broad for future decisions regarding substantive due process, and it should have classified sexual orientation as a quasi-suspect class
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Political Science; Pre Law
Watts, Rumor, "Obergefell v. Hodges: Majority Opinion got the Analysis Wrong, but the Answer Right" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 772.