Tom DeLay, the disgraced former U.S. congressman from Texas and Republican House Majority Leader, thinks states can defy a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage. He tells the right-wing outlet Newsmax that “all hell is going to break loose” if the high court makes such a ruling this month. He goes on:
“A ruling by the Supreme Court is nothing but an opinion if the legislative branch and the executive branch do not enforce it. Not only that, if the states would just invoke the 10th Amendment and assert their sovereignty, they can defy a ruling by the Supreme Court. It’s in the Constitution. We can tell the court what cases they can hear.”
Southern politicians tried this approach after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation as unconstitutional in 1954. It’s also what opponents of interracial marriage called for when the high court struck down state anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.
DeLay also argued that opposing a court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage “is about religious liberty more than anything else” — meaning, essentially, the right to refuse to accept or recognize same-sex marriages for religious reasons.
“For all of time, not just Christians and Jews, but all religions have defined marriage as one man and one woman to come together as one and have children and raise those children. You cannot redefine it. It is set in stone. You can call it something else and create civil unions, but you cannot redefine marriage.”
DeLay’s arguments represent an arrogant betrayal of the American constitutional system and a cynical distortion of the principle of religious freedom. If the courts can’t protect the constitutional rights of individuals, then those rights are subject to the whims and biases of whatever political majority rules the day. And that’s especially a danger when demagogues like DeLay use religion as a weapon to discriminate and harm others.