What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Same-Sex Marriage and the Court of Public Opinion

December 7, 2012, 3:57 PM
Gays

This afternoon, the Supreme Court agreed to hear argument in two same-sex marriage cases: a challenge to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to overturn Proposition 8 and a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This is the first time the Supreme Court will consider whether there is a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to wed.

Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor will be the most divisive and closely watched cases of the term, and will produce two of the most significant rulings of the past few years. It has the potential to cement or curtail a growing national movement to open the institution of marriage to same-sex couples.

There are a host of complex questions to be batted about over the standard of review the court will use to adjudicate the cases and how the justices will interpret and apply previous relevant decisions — none of which is directly apposite to marriage equality. I’ll address these and other matters in future posts.

For now, a quick note about how public opinion may impact the justices’ deliberations. Legal scholars disagree about the relationship between Supreme Court decisions and the public mood; some argue that the Court often opposes public opinion in its rulings while others find that the views of the people have a strong influence on the Court’s decisions. In his 2009 book, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court, Barry Friedman claims that “the more salient Supreme Court decisions generally meet with great public approval.”

If the latter view is correct, supporters of marriage equality may have cause for limited optimism. Consider how dramatically public opinion has evolved over the past 15 years:



This is a seismic shift. A majority of Americans, and a large majority of younger Americans, now support marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Compare these numbers to the state of public opinion on interracial marriage when the Supreme Court overturned a Maryland anti-miscegenation law in 1967:


The contrast is stunning: only 20 percent of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites in 1968, a year after Loving v. Virginia was decided, whereas 54 percent of Americans support the right of gays to marry today. If the Court votes to uphold DOMA or reverse the California Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, it will fly in the face of a new national consensus about the rights of gays and lesbians.

Image credit: shutterstock.com

Follow Steven Mazie on Twitter: @stevenmazie

 

Same-Sex Marriage and the C...

Newsletter: Share: