Justice Clarence Thomas was amongst the four Supreme Court justices that did not vote to legalize gay marriage in the United States. Thomas took issue with the concept of “liberty” and “dignity” saying the petitioners in the case had not been deprived of their liberty, as they have been allowed to travel and settle freely without government intervention.
He went on to draw a comparison to slaves saying, “slaves did not lose their dignity (anymore than they lost their humanity).” Huh???
Thomas wrote that there is no “dignity” clause in the US Constitution — and that, even if there was, the government could not bestow it upon a person or take it away.
To make his point, he invoked the examples of slavery and internment camps. From his dissent:
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.
Thomas went on to write that one’s liberty and dignity should be shielded from the government — not provided by it.
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Justice Thomas’ point is understood as it relates to how one views him or herself, dignity being the quality of being worthy of honor and respect; however, I think dignity was lost with many slaves.
Male slaves were not allowed to protect their families and striped of their manhood before their wives and children. The conditions were inhumane and those that defied the rules were beaten like savage animals and or killed.
Under those circumstances, that alone would cause them to lose a sense of dignity and break most especially knowing they had no recourse through the courts.
Slavery was wrong and the government allowed it so some can argue; dignity was lost because the government allowed them to be enslaved.
What are your thoughts?
Tags: Gay Marriage, Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage