Senate Republicans refuse to commit to codifying interracial and same-sex marriage rights into law
From contraception rights to same-sex marriage and parenting, and even interracial marriage, Senate Republicans are refusing to commit to voting to codify into law existing rights the U.S. Supreme Court – at least up until it overturned Roe v. Wade – has deemed constitutional.
Senate Democrats are working on legislation to make these rights the law of the land, but all but one of the more than 20 Senate Republicans polled by Axios, “including several seen as moderates or bipartisan dealmakers,” refused to say they would vote for them.
“Democrats’ strategy serves a dual purpose. If the measures pass, it’s a significant assurance for millions of Americans worried that conservative state legislatures are coming for them next,” Axios notes. “If the measures stall, it may give Democrats — the clear underdogs heading into November — more potent ammunition to retain and turn out voters.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe last month, urged the Court to “reconsider” the rulings finding Americans have a constitutional right to same-sex relationships, same-sex marriage, and contraception.
House Democrats are also planning to vote to codify these rights into law, with a vote planned for before or after the August recess. Those votes are expected to pass.
Axios shared some of the responses Republicans in the Senate offered.
“It’s hard to say. I haven’t looked at them,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said of the bills, which have yet to be drafted. “I haven’t even given any thought to that.”
Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who published a platform so extreme earlier this year that even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced himself from it, repeatedly said, “I haven’t seen the bills.”
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah also refused to commit: “I haven’t seen the bills, I can’t comment on them until I do.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only one to commit, but not to all of the rights. She told Axios “she would ‘certainly’ support codifying the Griswold (contraception rights) and Casey (abortion rights) rulings. She declined to weigh in on gay marriage, saying she’s been focused on reproductive health.”
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who made news earlier this week when one witness, a law professor, called him out for his “transphobic” line of questioning, offered up another combative response.
“I think the premise there is that it’s somehow likely the Supreme Court is going to overturn basically their entire substantive due process law,” said Hawley, ignoring Justice Thomas’ opinion in the Dobbs case that rescinded the right to abortion. “I think the chances of that are approximately zero. … The premise here is a false premise, so I wouldn’t be inclined to take the bait.”
As Politico reported in June, Justice Thomas said the Supreme Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process and equal protection rights.”
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