Judge Who Claimed ‘Wife Is To Subordinate Herself To Her Husband’ Recuses From Marriage Equality Case


Judge Leon Holmes

Judge Leon Holmes

Judge Leon Holmes, a federal judge who once wrote that a wife’s job “is to subordinate herself to her husband,” recused himself from a marriage equality case he was randomly assigned to hear. Holmes’ recusal from the case, which challenges Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, is unrelated to his past writings proclaiming subordinate role for wives — although not unrelated to his ties to conservative activism. Holmes “cited personal and professional relationships with leaders who drafted and campaigned for the ban” as the basis of his recusal.

Judge Holmes, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, wrote in a 1997 article published in the Arkansas Catholic that wives must “subordinate” themselves to their husbands and that “the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man” just like “the church is to place herself under the protection of Christ.” The same article also alluded to Holmes’ views on sexual freedom and LGBT rights. He wrote that “[i]t is not a coincidence that the feminist movement brought with it artificial contraception and abortion on demand, with recognition of homosexual liaisons soon to follow.”

In the 1980s, Holmes emerged as a leader in Arkansas’ anti-abortion movement, writing at the time that “[c]oncern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

Holmes’ recusal, which, to his credit, was entirely voluntary, removes the inevitable cloud that would form over any decision he signed upholding Arkansas’ ban on marriage equality. The case was reassigned to Judge Kristine Baker, an Obama appointee.