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Poetic Thinking 2016 | February 17, 2020

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It is so ordered

  • On March 9, 2016

In our discussion of love today, I am thinking a lot about Justice Kennedy’s words from Obergefell v. Hodges, which seem to be a kind of legal poetry about love for our era:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. … The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”

The questions raised in the text we read about monogamy were certainly at play during the oral argument of the case, especially the relationship between marriage and childrearing–but the right ultimately failed in convincing Kennedy that love is simply a means to an end.


  1. Vivian Lam

    Wow–a great pairing with Philips, Yinshi. Interesting to see the poetic played out in arenas outside of the individual (and art as we would generally categorize art). This links well with your post on Bobby Fishcer and Andrew’s comment. Apart from the dangers of the “mythic,” reading this excerpt of “legal poetry” reveals some promise (or at least, interesting outcomes).

    Remarks from Scalia: “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.”

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