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Penn Law faculty comment on historic same-sex marriage decision

June 26, 2015

Penn Law faculty members who specialize in constitutional law respond to the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.

Generations of men and women risked their safety and their livelihoods, dedicated their labor and their honor, sacrificed their privacy and their peace of mind to achieve this victory. In one of the most consequential rulings on equality and liberty in decades, the Court has reaffirmed that the Constitution is a living document that must respond to the real experience of ordinary people who seek to participate in its great promises. Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are included in those promises. At long last, the equal dignity of our relationships under the Constitution is settled law. 


Kermit Roosevelt, Professor of Law
This decision is clearly right and consistent with the way the equal protection clause has functioned in our constitutional history: the Court invalidates forms of discrimination once it becomes clear that society has deemed them unjustified. There are always complaints that this amounts to granting special rights and that the Court has usurped the People’s right to self-governance. And they always look overblown in retrospect. Read more in-depth analysis from Prof. Roosevelt at:


Theodore Ruger, Dean-designate and Professor of Law
Today’s decision will go down in history as a landmark moment in the history of the Supreme Court and our nation’s long struggle to extend basic civil rights to all citizens. In its ruling the Court properly recognized the fundamental importance of the right to marry, and ensured that all Americans will enjoy that basic right in the future. That this ruling reflects the culmination of much prior work and many prior victories in state courts and legislatures does not dilute the profound importance of having the nation’s highest court unreservedly declare same-sex marriage to be the law of the land. 

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