Something About Today: Quiet Hash


Sometimes the answers really are blowing in the wind, even if the answer is nothing more than the sounds of silence. Of course, in modern America genuine silence is hard to come by. Kate Nocera explains for Buzzfeed:

On Monday afternoon, Sen. Mike Lee was one of the few GOP members to issue a statement. His home state of Utah was one of the states where a marriage ban was overturned by an appeals court and the state is now moving forward with allowing same-sex couples to marry. Lee called the Supreme Court decision to not review the appeals “disappointing.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz likewise criticized the decision on the part of the court and announced that he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow the states to define marriage.

“I will be introducing a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government or the courts from attacking or striking down state marriage laws,” Cruz said.

Supreme Court decisions are often met with swift reaction from members on Capitol Hill, filling reporter’s inboxes with statements of disappointment or support for whatever the justices have ruled. All the more when the decision impacts a hot-button social issue.

The muted response from congressional Republicans is telling. As public opinion on legalizing marriage for same-sex couples has dramatically shifted in its favor, the GOP’s opposition has quieted. Republicans have often argued that the decision on marriage should be left up to the states.

And let us bear in mind that Sen. Lee (R-UT) is from one of the rejected states; it’s hard for the Utah delegation to say absolutely nothing. And the Republican junior from Texas? Sen. Cruz, the strict constitutional constructionalist, is welcome to try. You know, since strict construction fails to satisfy his desires.

Steve Benen notes similar tumbleweeds over at the RNC offices:

The same goes for the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Campaign Committee, and the National Republicans Senatorial Committee, all of which published literally zero words on the subject.

In fairness, when Congress is out of session, members’ offices tend to have less to say on most issues, which is true of both parties. But note that in Democratic circles, both the DNC and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office were eager to celebrate today’s news from the Supreme Court.

A decade ago, Republicans saw marriage equality as a terrific wedge issue, to be exploited as often as possible. In 2014, GOP leaders can’t even be bothered to make vague criticisms of court rulings they ostensibly don’t like as same-sex marriage reaches 60% of the nation.

So, then, about that Sixth Circuit . . . .

† † †

A couple of options to satisfy those thinking the Sixth Circuit will rule against marriage equality:

• The court rules in Obergefell that under extreme circumstances, when a longtime partner is about to die, a state might deem it appropriate to generously grant an exemption to its gay marriage ban, thus preserving equal rights for everyone.

• The court rules in Bourke that states have some wiggle room under the Constitution to decide which acts and records of other states they will honor.

• Anything else is just too ridiculous, you know? Let us stick to real possibilities. Right? Right? (Hello?)

No, really. There is the Rubin pathway, and then there is craven maneuvering and desperate scheming to find some way to massage just one more pulse from a dying heart of darkness.

And perhaps that sounds vicious, but what is left? Feldman’s satisfaction of Louisiana’s prurient interestα is a juristic debacle; Rubin’s pathway through the constitutionβ is clear. What can the Sixth possibly come up with that would fulfill the speculation that the three-judge panel would reject Article IV of the Constitution, or, subsequently along that pathway, Amendment XIV?

How silly can we get?


α See Robicheaux v. Caldwell.

β See Costanza v. Caldwell.

Nocera, Kate. “Congressional Republicans Virtually Silent On Supreme Court Marriage Decision”. BuzzFeed. 6 October 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Republicans bite their tongues following marriage breakthrough”. msnbc. 6 October 2014.

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