Good, And Bad, Reasons For Mixed Feelings About Perry
Which is simply to say that legal details aside (I’m not a lawyer, but you can play one on TV by reading the decision) this seems like a clear victory for moral justice and nobody has any reason to have mixed feelings about it.
To elaborate a bit on my previous post, I agree 100% of this in terms of fears of a backlash. As long-time readers of this blog know, both here and in my academic work I’ve argued that the idea that social change produced through the courts leads to greater conflict is not supported by any good evidence, and also that the idea that conflict is a reason to avoid social change makes no sense. I definitely recommend this Ryan McNeely post, which provides further support for these claims.
So there’s no reason to have mixed feelings about the decision because finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would generate a backlash. The reason to have mixed feelings is that circuit court decisions are only remain authoritative if higher courts are willing to uphold them, and the conditions in the Supreme Court right now just aren’t very favorable. Strictly speaking, this is more a criticism of the decision to litigate now rather than the decision per se, but it’s worth emphasizing that although skeptics of the power of the courts to generate social reform are wrong about the backlash issue, it doesn’t follow from this that litigation is always a sound strategic option.