JACL Appalled by Justice Clarence Thomas’ Remarks in Obergefell Opinion

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director
pouchida@jacl.org

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) expresses outrage at Justice Clarence Thomas’ comments in his dissenting opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last Friday.

In his opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.”

Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, stated, “The Japanese American Citizens League is appalled with Justice Thomas’ correlation that ties laws prohibiting same-sex marriage to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The government’s actions to incarcerate every man, woman, and child of Japanese ancestry in 1942 are contrary to the principles of individual rights and due process. The mass removal of Americans from their homes was tantamount to the destruction of a community, a culture, and an American system of constitutional protections. And, as suggested by Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion, dignity is inherent in notions of due process where individuals cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property. There is no dignity in inequality.”

JACL is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the nation. Founded in 1929, JACL represents members in over 100 communities in 26 states. In 1994, JACL became the first non-LGBTQ civil rights organization since the ACLU to adopt a resolution in support of marriage equality.

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