Steve King encouraging states to disregard marriage equality ruling

Having tried unsuccessfully to prevent federal courts from hearing cases about marriage rights, Representative Steve King (IA-04) introduced a resolution today that would express the U.S. House’s disagreement with last month’s U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges.

King’s effort surely qualifies as the “strong message” he promised to send to the Supreme Court immediately after the Obergefell decision. But it is strikingly different from his response to the Iowa Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling in 2009.

Whereas the court’s majority struck down state-level bans on same-sex marriages, King’s resolution would express “the sense of the House of Representatives” that:

·         the traditional definition of marriage is a union between one man and one woman;

·         the majority opinion unconstitutionally and indefensibly perverts the definition of marriage;

·         the States may refuse to be bound by the holding in Obergefell v. Hodges;

·         the States are not required to license same-sex marriage or recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and

·         individuals, businesses, churches, religious groups, and other faith-based organizations are encouraged, empowered, and protected to exercise their faith without fear of legal or government interference.

I enclose below the full text of King’s press release as well as his four-page resolution. It does not reference King’s call last month for states to “abolish civil marriage” as a way of preventing same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as others.

Although King has been demagoguing against marriage equality for years, this tack is different from his response to the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 marriage equality ruling in Varnum v Brien. At that time, King called for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as an institution for one man and one woman and robocalled Iowans to generate support for a special legislative session to debate marriage. After those efforts failed, King actively campaigned against retaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who had concurred in the Varnum decision.

During the early weeks of marriage equality in Iowa, King acknowledged the reality of judicial review, parting ways with some Iowa conservatives who urged county recorders to disregard the Varnum ruling. From an Des Moines Register op-ed by King in May 2009:

Some have called for the county recorders to refuse to abide by the decision. Others have called for the governor to issue an executive order in an attempt to overrule the court. Some called upon the Legislature to pass a new statute. Others argue that the Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books and should prevail over the Supreme Court’s decision. All of these arguments have the same flaw: They contain no end game, no solution, and no resolution, while denying judicial review itself. Like a dog chasing its tail, all of these proposals end up before the same court again, producing likely the same result we have today.

The courts have the power to interpret the law to decide cases. Since 1803, in the case of Marbury v. Madison, the judicial branch has exercised the power of judicial review. But constitutionally there exists the right and the duty of the people to overrule the will of the court.

The best way to put a check on this power grab by the judicial branch is to amend the Iowa Constitution to protect marriage from the courts.

Following the same logic, King should be advocating for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution, rather than telling states to disregard the Obergefell ruling.

That he is not suggests the resolution of disapproval is just another publicity stunt, rather than a sincere effort to change the state of play on marriage.

I’ll be interested to see how House leaders handle King’s resolution. Will they allow a vote on language that could alienate the growing number of Americans who accept marriage equality? Or will they bury the resolution in a committee, angering some hard-core conservatives who are on King’s wavelength?

On a related note, King commented on Jan Mickelson’s WHO Radio show last week that he would be open to impeaching two of the U.S. Supreme Court justices:

“That provision does exist, and let’s hear what the public has to say,” he added. “If that were put up before me today, and I think I mentioned [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and [Justice Elena] Kagan as being two that had been conducting same-sex marriages on their spare time and did not recuse themselves, I would put up the vote to remove them from office. And I’d like to see that case heard again and it would come down four-to-three and it in the end it would come back to the states for that decision, where it should be. But I don’t know if the public is ready for that.”

Mickelson then asked King about Sen. Ted Cruz’s idea of establishing retention elections for Supreme Court justices – similar to those in Iowa in 2010 that resulted in three state supreme court justices losing their jobs in retribution for marriage equality votes – which King said he thought was “a pretty good idea.”

But in the near term, King said, the nation must turn to “nationwide civil disobedience” in defiance of the marriage decision. He also repeated his plan for states to “abolish civil marriage” in order to deny the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread.

Representative Steve King press release, July 10:

King Introduces Legislation to Reaffirm Traditional Marriage

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after introducing the House Resolution of disapproving the Supreme Court’s opinion legalizing same-sex marriage:

“The traditional definition of marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” said King. “In a blatant act of judicial activism, the Supreme Court perverted the word ‘marriage’ to create an unconstitutional right to same-sex marriage. Five unelected judges imposed their personal will on the States and the American people by overturning at least thirty states whose constitutions define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

It is time for Congress to speak out against this Constitutionally baseless decision. That is why I have introduced a resolution of disapproval to ensure the American people know that the House of Representatives strongly opposes the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.

This resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that:

·         the traditional definition of marriage is a union between one man and one woman;

·         the majority opinion unconstitutionally and indefensibly perverts the definition of marriage;

·         the States may refuse to be bound by the holding in Obergefell v. Hodges;

·         the States are not required to license same-sex marriage or recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and

·         individuals, businesses, churches, religious groups, and other faith-based organizations are encouraged, empowered, and protected to exercise their faith without fear of legal or government interference.

I urge my colleagues in the House to support this resolution and support traditional, one man and one woman marriage.”

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