Tag: US Supreme Court

Supreme Court Strikes Down the Defense of Marriage Act

rainbow flag capitolThe Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a 1996 law denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional, in a sign of how rapidly the national debate over gay rights has shifted. The decision was five to four, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined. (Read the decision.)

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts was in the minority, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and President Bill Clinton signed.

article via nytimes.com

148 Years Ago Today: First African-American Lawyer Practices Before U.S. Supreme Court

Upon the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which formally ended slavery, abolitionist lawyer John Swett Rock became the first African-American admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court on Feb. 1, 1865.

Rock was born free on October 13, 1825, in Salem, New Jersey. He was also an educator and later studied dentistry, graduating from the American Medical College in Philadelphia in 1852. He set up a practice in Boston, where many of his patients were escaped slaves fleeing to Canada through the Underground Railroad.

An outspoken abolitionist in Boston, Rock switched his focus to law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1861. He served the U.S. Supreme Court for just one year before health problems derailed his career. On Dec. 3, 1866, at age 41, he died from tuberculosis.

article by Britt Middleton via bet.com