A local judge in Tennessee has denied a divorce to a man and woman on the grounds that the Supreme Court’s recent decision on same-sex marriage means only the Supreme Court can decide “what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no longer a marriage.”
Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton is a huge Antonin Scalia stan, and apparently agreed with Scalia’s dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, where he argued that the justices were usurping states’ legislative power by recognizing gay couples’ right to marry.
Now, Atherton argues, I guess us stupid Tennesseans will have to wait for the Supreme Court to tell us what “divorce” is.
“The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorce,” Atherton wrote.
Yes, an actual judge whose decisions affect major aspects of people’s lives just advanced the “Are you calling me dumb? Well, I guess I’ll just play dumb, then,” argument pioneered years ago in America’s Five-Year Olds v. Their Parents.
As a result of Atherton’s stubborn and childish stand against Obergefell, Thomas Bumgardner, 65, and his wife, Pamela, 61, will be unable to end their marriage. Atherton told the Times Free Press he’s hopeful they can work things out.
Seems like they’ll have to, because if they want to file for divorce again, they’ll have to invent new reasons. They can’t retry the real grounds for their divorce—“irreconcilable differences”—after Atherton rejected it.