Supreme Court justices are not supposed to weigh in on individual cases, but this year the justices were able to weigh heavily in one of the most consequential cases in recent years.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent in a case called the Windsor case that involved the constitutional right to marry.
The Windsor case was a landmark case that established the right to same-sex marriage, and Thomas said in the dissent that the Windsor decision “has fundamentally undermined that right.”
“It is clear from this case, in addition to its impact on the ability of people of color to get married, that it also has significant implications for other Americans’ right to equal protection under the law,” Thomas wrote.
“The court’s decision in Windsor is, to use its own words, a ‘significant setback’ for the fundamental constitutional right of same-gender couples to marry.”
Thomas’ dissent was one of a handful of legal opinions in the past year that directly addressed the Windsor ruling.
He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote a dissenting opinion that said the court’s ruling in Windsor was “not an act of judicial activism.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined Thomas and Roberts in dissent, also joined in the diss.
“If the court were to continue to engage in judicial activism to deny gay people their equal rights, that would be a serious violation of the basic principle that a state shall not discriminate based on sexual orientation,” Ginsburg wrote.
The justices agreed to hear the Windsor issue on Friday.
The Supreme Court has ruled on several gay rights cases in the last decade.
In 2015, the justices declined to hear an appeal by a California man seeking to overturn a state law that banned gay sex acts in the state.
The law was passed in response to a 1998 case brought by a lesbian couple who argued that their constitutional right was violated when a local police department stopped them because they were gay.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority in the case, which was one among many that were heard on the same day the court ruled that same-age civil unions should be allowed in states with similar laws.
Justice Anthony Kennedy also wrote the opinion, which is not likely to be followed by a majority.
The court will be hearing arguments on the constitutionality of a federal law that requires employers to provide employees with contraceptive coverage, a policy that was supported by many conservative justices.
A decision in that case is expected this spring.
A federal appeals court recently upheld the constitutionally protected right to abortion, but the Supreme