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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Court rule is legitimate judge

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The case, the penultimate of this year’s term, could potentially strike down all same-sex marriage bans in the U.S. A decision will be handed down in June, but most pundits say it could go either way with Justices Kennedy and Roberts providing the eventual swing votes.

Prior to the arguments, most experts assumed marriage equality would emerge victorious after the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act and the gaining prevalence and popularity of same-sex marriage. This optimism, however, was somewhat dissipated after multiple justices expressed reservations about changing a definition that “has been with us for millennia.”

Ignoring this grossly inaccurate statement that discounts hundreds and thousands of years of polygamy, “untraditional” families and multiple civilizations that have had same-sex unions, both proponents and opponents of marriage equality are still preparing for all possible outcomes.

One of the more common tropes seen in media coverage surrounding the case has been the overly simplistic notion that a win for marriage equality would also be a win for Republican politicians.

Greg Daniels, co-director of ASUA Pride Alliance, explained how conservative candidates may get an easy way out of their opposition to marriage equality if it becomes the law of the land. Instead of arguing to discriminate against a class of people, who also happen to be voters and donors, Republicans could move on from the issue and stop straddling appeasement of their far-right base and mainstream voters.

While this would certainly make life easier for Republicans, this popular sentiment seems too optimistic, since a sizable portion of GOP primary voters still oppose marriage equality. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found “American voters support same-sex marriage 58-34 percent, with strong support from every party, gender and age group except Republicans, who are opposed 59-33 percent.”

One conservative politician in particular has already made vocal his commitment to “traditional marriage,” regardless of what the Supreme Court decides.

Mike Huckabee, presumed presidential candidate (although he hasn’t officially announced), had this to say: “One thing I am angry about, though, … is this notion of judicial supremacy. … Some aspirants to the presidency say, ‘Well, that’s settled. It’s the law of the land.’ No, it’s not the law of the land.”

And this: “Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law, they can interpret one and then the legislature has to create enabling legislation and the executive has to sign it and has to enforce it.”

And this: “I respect the courts, but the Supreme Court is only that — the supreme of the courts. It is not the supreme being. It cannot overrule God.”

First, let’s quickly explain why former Gov. Huckabee is wrong. Courts, and specifically the Supreme Court, have been enabled with judicial review since Marbury v. Madison in 1803. This means the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of a single law or the correct law in the event there is two or more conflicting laws.

If the Supreme Court decides that same-sex marriage is a right under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, they are not, in fact, adding to the amendment or creating a law. Rather, they are declaring bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, thus removing any legal barriers to marriage equality.

So yes, Mr. Huckabee, the Supreme Court is able to settle this issue.

Unfortunately for other Republican candidates, Huckabee’s ranting will force marriage equality to remain in the sphere of discourse regardless of the case’s outcome. Each candidate will be forced either to appeal to the base and side with Huckabee, or accept the process outlined in our Constitution and risk losing the nomination. 

This argument by Huckabee and other extreme Christian Groups isn’t just stupid, it’s dangerous. If half of our political spectrum doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, much bigger problems will arise.

For Democrats, Huckabee’s actions are a mixed bag. On one hand, forcing Republicans to talk continuously about same-sex marriage will only help the Democrat nominee in the general election. On the other, no one wants to see powerful politicians rebuking the authority of government branches for the sake of religion. Which, by the way, has no place in any conversation concerning something’s legality.


Jacob Winkelman is a sophomore studying political science and English. Follow him on Twitter.

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