GOP Lawmakers Cherry Pick the Bill of Rights on Marriage Equality
It must hurt — the mental machinations and intellectual inconsistencies necessary for Michigan’s GOP lawmakers to, time and again, churn-up conspiracy theories about federal government overreach. Tinfoil hatters are nothing new, but their numbers have swelled under Tea Party influence. Borne out of irrational fear of various “agendas”, mostly conjured out of thin air, the far right finds this brand of self-inflicted paranoia irresistible.
As the U.S. Supreme Court considers oral arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage, Michigan lawmakers have proposed a concurrent resolution decrying the anticipated court ruling against those states where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized. Federalism is employed as grounds for discrimination:
“Whereas, This arrangement of federalism best meets the needs of the states which often vary in customs and values and which are in a position to best understand the needs and desires of their own citizens. Altering wrongs on the part of government is much more easily accomplished at the state level than at the federal level.”
In a thinly-veiled, disparaging reference to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the resolution lays the groundwork for why we should ignore the Fourteenth Amendment altogether:
“Whereas, Generations after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, the United States Supreme Court began to embrace novel legal doctrines, most notably the Incorporation Doctrine which, contrary to prior court precedent, redefines the Fourteenth Amendment to be a constitutional watershed, one which makes every state and local law or custom subject to federal oversight, thereby proclaiming unto itself an authority never granted to it by the people. Beginning in the mid-1900s, the courts began to use the Fourteenth Amendment as a pretext for subsuming the long existing powers of the states, shaping society according to their own philosophies, and in the process, destroying federalism and rendering the Tenth Amendment all but meaningless.” [emphasis mine]
As an example of what happens when the high court treads on states’ sacred sovereignty, Senate Concurrent Resolution-12 cites the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision which denied citizenship and legal standing to African-Americans. Could they possibly have referenced a more inappropriate case in the service of their current battle to deny civil rights to LGBT citizens? (Of course, the resolution also neatly side-steps the second part of that infamous ruling — where the court circumvented federal government authority to regulate slavery in federal territories. Presumably that part was okay?)
The resolution boldly hijacks a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural speech, where he accused the high court of misappropriating power. SCR-12 contorts the meaning and intent of his words to make a case for state-sanctioned discrimination — talk about misappropriation!
Then, in the very next “Whereas”, lawmakers kick to the curb Article III of their beloved U.S. Constitution:
“Whereas, Among a free people, living in a democratic, constitutional republic, it is a grave injury to democracy itself that a single judge or court could, simply by decree, set aside or overturn the expressed will of the entire people.”
Apparently, the only part of the U.S. Constitution these lawmakers care to recognize when it comes to same-sex marriage is their overly-expansive interpretation of the Tenth Amendment conveying broad authority onto states. Fourteenth Amendment, among other inconveniences, be damned.
And what of the purported federal court power grab?
It’s very conditional — nuanced you might say. They were perfectly content with the Sixth Circuit’s ruling against same-sex marriage, and Citizens United, also fine of course, or that little squabble called Bush v. Gore — no problems there. Indeed, no “grave injuries to democracy” with those rulings — as long as one keeps that tinfoil hat securely cinched in place.
See the House version here.