The reductio ad absurdum of American constitutional jurisprudence

Jim Palmer once said of Earl Weaver, after the manager had offered the Hall of Fame pitcher a tip, “All Weaver knows about pitching is he couldn’t hit it.”

As I write this, the Supreme Court of the United States is preparing to hear oral argument in a case where the core question is the rationality/utility of the age-old definition of marriage. I’m tempted to say of some of the nine jurists who will pass judgment on the definition of marriage, “All they know about marriage is that theirs didn’t work.”

But this observation would be too harsh. The Justices not only know whether their marriage worked, they also know whether their parents’ marriage worked, and may understand why the marriages they experienced and witnessed close-up worked or didn’t. In other words, they know as little about marriage as the rest of us.

So I’ll be content with this observation: The fact that the Supreme Court may be about to pass judgment on the age-old definition of marriage is the reductio ad absurdum of American constitutional jurisprudence. That we have reached this point tells us that the Supreme Court has taken some terribly wrong turns.

The fact that, until very recently, marriage has universally been deemed to require an opposite sex component doesn’t mean that this component must be required forevermore. But a decent appreciation of democracy, human history, and the fallibility of the individual means that nine glorified lawyers shouldn’t be the ones who make the change. Nor should they be in a position where they might make it.

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