Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski Compares Gay Marriage Ruling to Dred Scott Decision

Local man in hot-pink cap disagrees with gay marriage.
Local man in hot-pink cap disagrees with gay marriage.
Photo by Piotr Drabik | WikiCommons

While most prominent Miamians have been celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage, the Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has come out hard against the decision. In a statement, Archbishop Thomas Wenski compared the ruling to Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion nationwide) and the Dred Scott case (which, in 1857, ruled that African-Americans could legally be considered property and even free blacks were not considered U.S. citizens). Wenski's statement is not subtle. 

Here it is in full:

The decision of the Supreme Court redefining marriage as merely an affective union between two people of any sex was disappointing if not unexpected. As the minority of the judges said in their dissent, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment.” This is simply a wrong, mistaken decision. Of course, this is not the first time the Supreme Court got it wrong.

In the 19th Century, in the Dred Scott decision, the Court decided that a black man had no rights that a white person had to respect. In the 20th Century, the Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a baby could be killed in her mother’s womb at any time before birth. And now in the 21st Century, the Supreme Court makes another wrong decision.

Bad decisions lead to bad consequences and do not “settle” anything. Dred Scott made inevitable a bloody Civil War that cost more lives than any other war in our history and the racism that inspired the Dred Scott decision is still a cancer on America’s soul.

Roe v. Wade has resulted in more than 50 million abortions. Yet, abortion still troubles the conscience of America and an increasing majority of Americans reject “abortion on demand”.

This decision redefining marriage will also bring bad consequences. Losing the understanding of marriage in our culture as a conjugal union of a man and a woman in a permanent and exclusive commitment conducive to welcoming and raising the children born from such a union weakens the family as the basic cell of society; and it imperils the human flourishing of future generations. Allowing “an act of the will” to be substituted for “legal judgment” is a recipe for tyranny. 

Granted, no one expects a Catholic archbishop to celebrate this ruling — but comparing it to Dred Scott? 

Dred Scott v. Sanford is widely considered a case with the worst Supreme Court decision in history (incidentally, the opinion was written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, America's first Catholic justice). The decision held that because African-Americans were not considered citizens at the time the Constitution was drafted, citizenship could not be awarded to them. So the justices ruled that African-Americans had no right to even bring a case before a court and that slaves were considered property. So even a slave who ran away to a free state could be captured and returned. 

It's a pretty bold move to compare Obergefell v. Hodges to Scott v. Sanford, and if Wenski is going to make that kind of logical leap, he might have at least bothered to better explain what he meant. 


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