Europe’s High Court Needs to Air Mail Ruth Bader Ginsburg a Giant Eraser. Here’s Why.


I’ve been making the rounds on global [+1:49:10] and national [+51:33] radio this week, talking about a recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that defended traditional marriage. Earlier this month, I commented on the significance of that ruling for Americans.

Others have been buzzing about that ruling, too. Writing on behalf of C-FAM, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, based in both New York and Washington, D.C., Stefano Gennarini, J.D. explained that the ruling “shattered hopes that [the European Court of Human Rights]would judicially impose same-sex marriage.”

That’s great news for supporters of traditional marriage in Europe. But, how does the court’s decision affect conservatives stateside?

Enter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She’s no conservative, that’s for sure; but, she points out one reason the European high court’s ruling is significant.

Remember her dissent from the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell? (Read Alito’s, Roberts’, Scalia’s, Thomas’, and Kennedy’s opinion, here.) Well, while she dissented from the court this summer, last summer she stood with the court in two landmark cases. National Public Radio’s news service recounts that

On June 26, [2013,] the Supreme Court issued a pair of 5-4 rulings that bolstered same-sex marriage. The first struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The second left in place a ruling that California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Ginsburg joined the slim majority in both rulings.

Just two months after she and the four other justices handed down the court’s opinion in those two cases, Ginsburg officiated at the same-sex marriage of her friend Michael Kaiser.

euro-courtThat wasn’t all she had to do with same-sex marriage that summer. According to, in the same month that she officiated at the wedding, she “told a Philadelphia audience … that growing acceptance of gay marriage reflects the ‘genius’ of the U.S. Constitution.” On the first Friday in August 2013, she said that “I see the genius of our Constitution, and of our society, is how much more embracive we have become than we were at the beginning.”

But, while she’s been agitating for wider acceptance of same-sex marriage, she’s also been calling for a higher level of awareness about foreign court rulings. Back in 2009, Ginsburg spoke before a gathering of legal practitioners and scholars at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. The New York Times covered that event at the time.

In her remarks at Moritz College, Ginsburg told her listeners that “I frankly don’t understand all the brouhaha lately from Congress and even from some of my colleagues about referring to foreign law.” She wondered aloud: “Why shouldn’t we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law review article written by a professor?”

Well, here comes one of them foreign rulings.

Commenting on the holding of the European Court of Human Rights’ Grand Chambers in the case of Hämäläinen vs. Finland, Stefano Gennarini, J.D. explained to readers over at Life Site News that

The court confirmed that the protection of the traditional institution of marriage is a valid state interest—implicitly endorsing the view that relations between persons of the same sex are not identical to marriage between a man and a woman, and may be treated differently in law.

The judgment says that European human rights law recognizes the “fundamental right of a man and woman to marry and to found a family” and “enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

So, sure. Please take note of that ruling, Justice Ginsburg. And, in the process, please feel free to revise the court decisions from last summer?

Kinda stings, don’t it, Justice Ginsburg? 😉

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

John Paul Shimek is a 2003 honors graduate of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire--one of the oldest Benedictine colleges in North America. He holds ecclesiastical degrees from the graduate schools of Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Those degrees were awarded to him in the names of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinals Theodore McCarrick and Donald Wuerl. His academic specializations include the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Second Vatican Council, and Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. John Paul has provided special counsel to numerous Church leaders, including both the former and current archbishops of Milwaukee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Jerome Listecki. Most recently, he served as a technical theological assistant to Archbishop Listecki during the preparation of a pastoral letter for the Year of Faith. He has been interviewed and he has written on a wide spectrum of religious and public forum issues for numerous media outlets, including CNN, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Telemundo, Zenit, the Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic Register, Catholic Exchange, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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