by Nathan Shapiro
The United States Supreme Court has a spotty history. There have been times when the justices turned their backs on civil rights and human rights. Today, men such as Chief Justice Roger Taney and Chief Justice Morrison Waite are remembered for decisions that in contemporary times seem abhorrent to a vast majority of Americans. Taney wrote the Dred Scott decision, which said that no black person could be an American citizen. Waite wrote the opinion for Elk v. Wilkins in 1884, which said that an Indian born in the United States was not a citizen. On Wednesday, with their dissenting votes to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts joined Taney and Morrison on a list of justices who are remembered for their backward thinking. They either chose to ignore or were simply blind to the reality that marriage equality is now accepted as a basic civil right.