Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kerber on the Other Marshall Court

Linda Kerber, University of Iowa, has just published in the Boston Globe an op-ed appreciation of Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and her opinion for the Supreme Judicial Court in the Goodridge decision of 2003, which legalized same-sex marriage. (Marshall's opinion drew upon a historians' brief that showed how marriage practices in the state changed with changing meanings of equality.) Professor Kerber commences:
Look to the court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage in three states and you'll find the echoes of Margaret H. Marshall, chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Writing in 2003 that a state may not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex, " Marshall warned that the decision "marks a change in the history of our marriage law."

Suddenly her ruling - that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health had to issue marriage licenses to Hillary and Julie Goodridge and six other same-sex couples - has come to seem the common sense of the matter.

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