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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 30, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 44
Justice Kennedy: Officials who don't like same-sex marriage should resign
Section One
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Justice Kennedy: Officials who don't like same-sex marriage should resign

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Public officials who can't bring themselves to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage should resign, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said at a Harvard Law School event.

Kennedy, who wrote both Supreme Court decisions on marriage rights - United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges - made the remarks in response to a question from a student.

Does an official have the 'authority to act according to her own judgment' if she has doubts about the high court's ruling, the student asked.

Kennedy answered by acknowledging that officials may confront 'difficult moral questions' when they are asked to 'enforce a law that they believe is morally corrupt.'

Noting that very few judges resigned from their positions in Nazi German government, Kennedy said it would be preferable to resign rather than enforce repugnant laws.

'Great respect, it seems to me, has to be given to people who resign rather than do something they view as morally wrong, in order to make a point,' Kennedy told the Harvard audience.

But, he added, 'the rule of law is that, as a public official in performing your legal duties, you are bound to enforce the law.'

In other words, as long as officials remain in office, they are obligated to comply with the law, even if they find it morally objectionable. They can be excused from complying with laws they object to only by resigning.

Kennedy did not mention Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis by name, but the original question from the student obviously referred to her case.

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