As if the election of a truly abysmal legislature, courtesy of gerrymandering , wasn’t bad enough, Indiana’s voters keep giving the state hugely embarrassing statewide officials. I have posted several times about Todd Rokita, Indiana’s widely-despised egomaniac Attorney General; currently, it’s intellectually and morally-challenged Senator Mike Braun who is reflecting negatively on Hoosiers.
The Washington Post was one of several media outlets reporting on Braun’s defense of “state’s rights” during the confirmation hearings for Judge Jackson.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said Tuesday that he would be open to the Supreme Court overturning its 1967 ruling that legalized interracial marriage nationwide to allow states to independently decide the issue.
Braun — who made the comments during a conference call in which he discussed the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court — also said he’d welcome the rescinding of several key decisions made by the court in the past 70 years to pass the power to the states.
Heather Cox Richardson had a historically-grounded response to Braun’s assertion that the country would be “better off having states manifest their points of view rather than homogenizing it across the country as Roe v. Wade did.” As Richardson reminds us, the whole point of the 14th Amendment was to “homogenize” the fundamental rights of American citizens.
After World War II, the Supreme Court used the Fourteenth Amendment to protect civil rights in the states, imposing the government’s interest in protecting equality to overrule discriminatory legislation by the states.
Now, Republicans want to return power to the states, where those who are allowed to vote can impose discriminatory laws on minorities.
Richardson points out that it’s impossible to limit an evisceration of the Fourteenth Amendment to a single issue. If states are empowered to award or deny rights as they wish –if they are free of federal restraints on their ability to strip reproductive rights from women, for example–“the entire body of decisions in which the federal government protects civil rights, beginning with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ending segregation in the public schools, is illegitimate.”
Voters need to realize that the GOP’s assault on fundamental rights goes well beyond efforts to overturn Roe. Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn has challenged Griswold v. Connecticut, the decision that legalized contraception, and Texas Senator John Cornyn has attacked Obergefell, the decision recognizing same-sex marriage.
Braun and the other Neanderthals in the GOP would undoubtedly cheer such results. Most Americans, not so much. Richardson points out that they are “quite literally” making the same “states’ rights” argument used to justify enslaving people before the Civil War.”
More recently, it is the argument that made birth control illegal in many states, a restriction that endangered women’s lives and hampered their ability to participate in the workforce as unplanned pregnancies enabled employers to discriminate against them. It is the argument that prohibits abortion and gay marriage; in many states, laws with those restrictions are still on the books and will take effect just as soon as the Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges are overturned.
Eviscerating the Fourteenth Amendment provision that prohibits states from withholding the “privileges and immunities” of U.S. citizenship from their citizens would invalidate the existing jurisprudence of Equal Protection, a jurisprudence that requires all states to respect the fundamental rights protected by the Bill of Rights–to “homogenize” them.
Richardson points out that Braun’s desired reversal of Loving v. Virginia would criminalize the marriages of both Judge Jackson and Justice Thomas in certain states.
Braun’s willingness to abandon the right of Americans to marry across racial lines was pointed, since Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, whose confirmation hearing for her elevation to the Supreme Court is currently underway in the Senate, is Black and her husband is non-Black. The world Braun described would permit states to declare their 26-year marriage illegal, as it would have been in many states before the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision declared that states could not prohibit interracial marriages. This would also be a problem for sitting justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
Braun is today’s version of a mainstream Republican, and Richardson revisits a frequently-quoted paragraph written a decade ago by respected scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, who concluded
“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the mainstream,” they wrote, “it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”
So we’ve seen–and it has only gotten worse.
These days, as the Jackson hearings are painfully illustrating, Republicans have made both civil discourse and basic, substantive governance virtually impossible.