GOP Senator falsely claims SCOTUS 'mandated' same-sex marriages in landmark ruling

GOP Senator falsely claims SCOTUS 'mandated' same-sex marriages in landmark ruling
Senator John Cornyn (R) (screengrab).

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, the long-serving 70-year old Texas born, bred, and educated Republican who has been in government since 1985, on Monday doubled down on his attack on the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which found the U.S. Constitution requires same-sex couples to be afforded the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as their different-sex peers.

He falsely claimed the ruling “mandated” same-sex marriages, which would literally mean Americans have been forced to marry someone of the same gender. Two weeks ago he labeled the ruling an “edict,” with the same effect.

“Over our nation’s history there’s been something for everyone to love, or hate, from Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the shameful ‘separate but equal’ doctrine for public schools – ultimately overruled in Brown v. Board of Education, to Obergefell, which mandated same-sex marriages,” Cornyn declared Monday during the Senate confirmation vote of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

Cornyn was wrong in his remarks but not because he was confused. The former Senate Minority and Majority Whip who has also been a judge and an attorney general knows the law better than most.

“When the Supreme Court creates a right that is not even mentioned in the Constitution, the independence and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court itself is called into question,” Cornyn claimed, “because consent is discarded.”

As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern writes, same-sex marriage is the next target for Republicans after they kill the constitutional right to abortion.

“Today, Sen. John Cornyn put Obergefell (the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision) in the same category as Plessy v. Ferguson,Stern writes. “How much clearer do Republicans need to be that they’re gunning for Obergefell?”

Oberlin political science professor Dr. Miranda Yaver, PhD offered a similar observation:

Two weeks ago during Judge Jackson’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing, Stern wrote at Slate: “Loathing for Obergefell emerged early on Tuesday, when Republican Sen. John Cornyn launched a frontal assault on the ruling, then sought Jackson’s reaction.”

“He began by criticizing ‘substantive due process,’ which holds that the ‘liberty’ protected by the due process clause protects substantive rights, not just procedural ones. The Supreme Court has used this theory to enforce ‘unenumerated rights’ that it deems fundamental, including the right to marry, raise children, use contraception, and terminate a pregnancy. Along with equal protection, it served as the basis of Obergefell. According to Cornyn, however, this doctrine is ‘just another form of judicial policymaking’ that can be used ‘to justify basically any result.'”

He called Obergefell “a new right,” “an act of judicial policymaking,” and an “edict,” rather than a landmark ruling, similar to his false claim on Monday that it “mandated” same-sex marriage. He also called the ruling “a dramatic departure from previous laws” that contradicted “234 years” of history, as Stern reported.

Cornyn wasn’t done yet.

The Texas Republican “also dismissed Obergefell as ‘court-made law that we’re all supposed to salute smartly and follow because nine people who are unelected, who have lifetime tenure, whose salary cannot be reduced while they serve in office—five of them decide that this is the way the world should be.'”

Watch Cornyn from Monday’s vote:

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