SCOTUS’s Decision to Stay Out of Alabama Case May Have Revealed Upcoming Gay-Marriage Ruling

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U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for photographs in the East Conference Room at the Supreme Court building October 8, 2010 in Washington, DC. This is the first time in history that three women are simultaneously serving on the court.
Clarence Thomas. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Last week, the United States Supreme Court rejected a request to stop gay marriage in Alabama, allowing the state’s judges to begin presiding over same-sex unions this morning. The SCOTUS is scheduled to rule on the issue itself this spring, but Clarence Thomas suggested that the court had basically given away its decision by staying out of the Alabama case.

In a dissent co-signed by fellow conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas argued that by effectively upholding a lower court’s ruling against the Alabama gay-marriage ban, his colleagues had “[looked] the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws without making any effort to preserve the status quo pending the court’s resolution of a constitutional question it left open in United States v. Windsor.” He continued:

This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question…This is not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is.”

“Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States,” he added.

Thomas concluded by complaining that the Supremes had not “shown the people of Alabama the respect they deserve.” National marriage equality might be on its way, but Thomas and Scalia don’t want to be rude to bigots — not to mention adamant believers in states’ rights! — in the meantime.