Supreme Court Update and Resources on Marriage

By Richard Nelson

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June 26, 2014

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On Monday, the Supreme Court will reveal its important ruling in the case of Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood and the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. The President's healthcare legislation seeks to require all employers to include contraceptive care in their employees' insurance plans, even abortifacients and other morally objectionable substances. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga have sued to have the mandate declared unconstitutional because it violates religious and ethical principles.

This is an important court case for the future of religious liberty. Justices of the Supreme Court will decide whether the federal government can override the religious and moral sensibilities of business owners when it comes to health insurance. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has put together a helpful page of resources that explain and analyze the case which can be accessed here.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts law targeting abortion protesters was unconstitutional. The court ruled unanimously that the state's "buffer zone" statute, which mandated that pro-life demonstrators stay at least 35 feet away from a Planned Parenthood facility, violated the First Amendment rights of the protestors. The court deserves commendation for uniformly standing up for freedom of speech. A helpful background of the case can be found here.

Two recent articles on marriage and family are worth your attention. W. Bradford Wilcox, in an interview with First Things magazine, explained why children in stable, two-parent homes are more likely to succeed in adult life.

To be clear, many children raised in single-parent or blended-families turn out okay. But it’s also the case that children raised in such families are less likely to thrive than their peers from intact families. Boys raised outside of an intact, married family are about twice as likely to land in prison or jail by the time they turn thirty, girls see their risk of a teenage pregnancy about triple when they are raised outside of such a home, and—for boys and girls—their odds of attending and graduating from college are markedly lower if their parents do not get and stay married

Meanwhile Ryan T. Anderson argues that federal judges should not be allowed to redefine marriage on behalf of a citizenry:

Indeed, whatever any individual American thinks about marriage, the courts shouldn’t redefine it. Marriage policy should be worked out through the democratic process, not dictated by unelected judges. The courts should uphold the freedom of the American people and their elected representatives to make marriage policy. Last summer, when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, Chief Justice John Roberts emphasized the limits of the majority’s opinion. He made clear that neither the holding nor its logic required redefining state marriage laws. The states remain free to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If marriage ends up back at the Supreme Court again next year, the Court will be less likely to usurp the authority of citizens if it is obvious that citizens are engaged in this democratic debate and care about the future of marriage.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center