Thursday, January 12, 2006

Browbeating Brownback

The notorious anti-gay, anti-same-sex-marriage, anti-anything liberal U.S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas was his lickspittle best as a pro-something yesterday. He was pro-Alito, pro-hopes of taking back rights from others.

He got his chance at the other Sam, Alito, on the third day of hearings. Of course, as his peers, left and right, donkey and pachyderm, it was really, "Enough about me. What do you think of me?"

Well, Sammy #1, the Senator, don't care much for them hom-o-sexu-alls. The subject of same-sex marriage has caused him some distress. He is a big support of having the federal government get in the business of regulating marriage, something that has always been the states' purview. He sponsors DoMA legislation and speaks up when he can, for instance, last November.

He got his chance to make kissy-face with Sammy #2, the jurist, at the hearing. Basically, Brownback postured that he was against SSM and didn't mind dropping the full-faith-and-credit clause that forms the basis for our interstate legal structure to prove it.

He knew up front that Alito would no more stick his neck out on that than he had on all the previous morally, legally and intellectually demanding questions asked. Yet, Brownback was speaking to his constituents, using Alito as a prop.

Actually, the full exchange speaks volumes:
BROWNBACK: But the court said no. The issue of marriage is coming through the court system right now. As the court keeps getting involved in these areas, I think you’re going to see these sorts of constitutional issues being explored more and more. The marriage case I want to take you to, because that’s making its way through the federal court -- 45 of our 50 states have deemed marriage being between the union of a man and a woman. The state of Nebraska passes a state constitutional amendment, 70 percent of the people voting for it, saying that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Yet a federal judge, in that case, threw out the state constitutional amendment on novel constitutional grounds, and it’s now making its way up through the system. The Congress has passed the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, passed overwhelmingly, signed into law by President Clinton. It basically did two things. First, it establishes for purposes of federal law, marriage would be defined as a union of a man and woman. And second it provided that no state would be forced to recognize a marriage entered into in another state. A number of legal scholars believe this second part violates the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. Judge Alito, this case is coming forward and will probably be resolved in the federal courts, if it isn’t resolved by the Congress through a constitutional amendment. What is your understanding of the meaning of the full faith and credit clause, and does this apply to the institution of marriage, which has been traditionally an issue and an area left up to the states?

ALITO: Well, several constitutional doctrines seem to be implicated by the matters that you have discussed. The full faith and credit clause in general means that one state must honor judgments that are issued by a court of another state, and it’s an important part of the process. It is an important part of the federal system, so that we don’t have warring decisions in different states. I have not had cases involving this, but there are -- the doctrine has certain boundaries to it. There are exceptions and it covers certain areas and doesn’t cover other areas. And a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act under the full faith and credit clause would call into question the precise scope of the doctrine. And I believe that scholars have expressed differing views about how it would apply in that situation. And that’s an issue that may well come up within the federal courts, almost certain to do so.

So, in short, Sammy #1 says that we can't let a couple of centuries of legal precedence stand in the way of my anti-gay moralizing, can we? Sammy #2 says that he can't say.

We affirm that Sammy #1 is a bigot with no respect for our laws and that Sammy #2 will do anything to get a seat on the Supreme Court. We knew both of those.

Our surmise is that as in the above example, Sammy #2 will provide no substance for Congressional debate. He's in.

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