Here Are the Most Remarkable Quotes from the Gay Marriage Dissents

Scalia
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at an event sponsored by the Federalist Society at the New York Athletic Club in New York, Oct 13, 2014. Darren Ornitz/Reuters

Not every justice is happy with the Supreme Court's landmark 5-to-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all filed their own dissenting opinions, railing against what he called an affront to "religious liberty" and "the principles upon which our Nation was built." Here are the most striking and bitter excerpts.

Antonin Scalia:

No surprises: Right-leaning Reagan appointee Justice Scalia dissented with the Court's decision—as he has in previous cases—in favor of same-sex marriage. This time, his dissent took a bitter and even mocking tone. 

He criticized the supposedly "incoherent" phrasing of the majority decision, written by Justice Kennedy:

"The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent."

Despite it being 2015, he mentions hippies:

One would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.

And he threatened to "hide my head in a bag" because the Supreme Court has embraced "the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie":

If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

He also warned about the coming "impotence" of the Court because of decisions like this one:

With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.

He even griped about his fellow justices' personal backgrounds (and said California didn't count as a Western state):

Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers18 who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans19), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

Clarence Thomas:

Conservative Justice Thomas joined with Scalia in dissenting from the Court's historic 5–4 decision. He argued that the Court as it currently stands contradicts "the principles upon which our Nation was built":

The Court’s decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built. Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits.

In a particularly stunning passage he uses slavery and internment camps to argue the government can't take away dignity:

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

John Roberts:

Justice Roberts' dissent cites an old conservative favorite: The notion that "religious liberty" is at threat when same-sex marriage is legal:

Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority— actually spelled out in the Constitution.

And, in defending the "universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman," he offered up an elementary-level lesson in the birds and the bees:

The premises supporting this concept of marriage are so fundamental that they rarely require articulation. The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman. When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the mother and father stay together rather than going their separate ways. Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond

Samuel Alito:

Finally, Bush-appointee Alito wrote the final dissenting opinion. He took a warning tone, arguing that the decision would be "used to vilify" Americans who don't embrace the new gay order:

Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy

Like Roberts, he delved into procreation and says that single mothers are both a cause and a result of "changes in our society's understanding of marriage":

If this traditional understanding of the purpose of marriage does not ring true to all ears today, that is probably because the tie between marriage and procreation has frayed. Today, for instance, more than 40% of all children in this country are born to unmarried women.2 This development undoubtedly is both a cause and a result of changes in our society’s understanding of marriage

Here are the complete decisions. Follow Newsweek's live coverage of the court's decision.