Tag Archives: Mike Braun

Braun: Another Indiana Embarrassment

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.

 

Contemplating The Mob

It’s difficult–no, impossible–to describe my reaction to what happened at the nation’s capitol on Wednesday. I gave myself an extra day to process it, but I’m still unable to adequately convey my reaction.

Earlier in the day, my husband listened to the disconnected, angry “speech” delivered by soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump, so I couldn’t help hearing most of it–despite the fact that the sound of his voice makes me physically ill. If I had to characterize what I heard, I would use words like “incoherent” “self-pitying” and “delusional.” 

Trump’s interminable rant finally ended just before 1 p.m.,with his offer to lead a march to the Capitol, where Congress was assembled for the entirely ceremonial acceptance of Electoral College votes. He didn’t lead the march, of course–he went back to the White House–but a large number of those in his audience proceeded to march to the Capitol, where they toppled the barricades that had been erected, broke windows and breached the Capitol building.

Speaking of those barricades, there were fewer than usual, raising some ugly questions made even more concerning by the scarcity and restraint–and in some cases, what looked like participation– of Capitol police. Numerous people have noted that the slim police presence was in stark contrast to security during Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year, when more than 5,000 officers were deployed. There were only 115 on duty at any one time on Wednesday–even though police had ample warning; right-wingers had been engaged in online planning for weeks.

For the next four hours, as my husband and I switched between C-SPAN, NBC and CBS, we saw an attempted coup–and not a bloodless one. One person was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later died. Three others apparently died as well.

From what the television cameras showed, the mob was composed of Trump’s typical supporters– Proud Boys, QAnon conspirators, “good old boys” waving Confederate and Trump flags and toting guns, Neo-Nazis in MAGA hats. One shirtless thug displayed a Ku Klux Klan tattoo on his abdomen, another wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt. We watched, astonished, as they took selfies and ransacked Congressional offices.

The Governors of Virginia and Maryland belatedly activated their National Guard units–reportedly, Trump had earlier refused a request to do so– and the Mayor of DC imposed a 6:00 pm curfew. 

An hour or more into the mayhem, in response to pleas from several Senators, Trump issued a statement that the mob should “go home”–but only after repeating his election falsehoods, telling them that he “loved them” and assuring them that he considered them “very special.” 

This riot (on behalf of the “law and order” party) can be directly attributed to Trump and the cynical and deeply dishonorable members of the House and Senate–including Indiana Senator Mike Braun– who had announced their intent to “object” to the receipt of Electoral College votes. Their unprecedented betrayal of their oaths of office finally drew bipartisan condemnation.

I was no fan of former President George W. Bush, but I applaud his statement that he had been “appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election.” Even Mitch McConnell–aka Mr. Evil–excoriated those who participated in what can only be considered a frontal attack on American democracy. And for the first time in four years, Mike Pence (reluctantly) declined to enable and defend one of Donald Trump’s multiple assaults on the Constitution.

As for Hawley, Cruz (and Braun), conservative columnist George Will said it best:

The Trump-Hawley-Cruz insurrection against constitutional government will be an indelible stain on the nation. They, however, will not be so permanent. In 14 days, one of them will be removed from office by the constitutional processes he neither fathoms nor favors. It will take longer to scrub the other two from public life. Until that hygienic outcome is accomplished, from this day forward, everything they say or do or advocate should be disregarded as patent attempts to distract attention from the lurid fact of what they have become. Each will wear a scarlet “S” as a seditionist.

It’s too soon to predict what the ultimate fallout from this appalling insurrection will be. For now, I’ll just share a message posted to Facebook by my friend Kevin Osborn–a message with which I entirely agree:

As the sun sets on this momentous day, I am thankful for Stacey Abrams and others in Georgia for their phenomenal work in getting out the vote. I refuse to let the actions of a relatively small group of treasonous domestic terrorists and their addled, unfit leader ruin the historic event that took place last night and that so many have fought and died for over many years. We will move forward from this treachery and those that cannot will be left behind in history’s trash bin.

Amen to that.