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Law School Case Brief

Obergefell v. Hodges - 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)

Rule:

The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972) must be and is overruled, and state law-based restrictions are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.

Facts:

Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Several same-sex couples filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that state officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to give full faith and credit to their out-of-state marriages. Each District Court ruled in their favor and the case was elevated on certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Issue:

Was the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the laws of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were held invalid to the extent they excluded same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. It explained that under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry. Moreover, same-sex couples can exercise the fundamental right to marry in all states. Thus, it follows that there is no lawful basis for a state to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state on the ground of its same-sex character.

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