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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 26, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 09
Stranger than fiction: Alabama lawyer alleges mental anguish, sues Supreme Court justices who voted for marriage equality
Section One
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Stranger than fiction: Alabama lawyer alleges mental anguish, sues Supreme Court justices who voted for marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Alabama lawyer Austin Burdick has filed a federal lawsuit against the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted for marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges.

In his suit, Burdick alleges the justices are guilty of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and violating the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He is seeking more than $6 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages, mental anguish damages, and attorney's fees and costs.

Burdick claims in the lawsuit that the five justices, through their Obergefell opinion, have rewritten the 14th Amendment to allow an expansion of government authority, not a guarantee of liberty.

The 14th Amendment, which requires states to observe the same respect for equal protection and due process that the Bill of Rights imposes on the federal government, was the constitutional basis for the high court's decision striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

'This 'interpretation' is no interpretation at all. It is a tyrannical usurpation of authority to rewrite the Constitution,' Burdick states in the lawsuit.

The decision of 'the Defendants [justices] goes beyond a manipulation, twist, strain, or unique perspective on the text and crosses over in to an abandonment of the Constitution,' he adds.

The suit names justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kegan as defendants.

Burdick's suit is likely going nowhere, however. Judges are protected from liability for their judicial decisions under the doctrine of 'judicial immunity,' even if the judge's decision is contrary to law and morality.

In Mireles v. Waco (1991), for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a judge had 'absolute immunity' from a lawsuit, even though he had instructed police to 'rough up' a defendant who missed his court date.

Stump v. Sparkman (1978) is considered the binding Supreme Court precedent. In that case, the Supreme Court dismissed a suit against an Indiana judge who had ordered sterilization of a 15-year-old girl at her mother's request.

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