October 12, 2020

Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Jonathan Capehart Sunday that the hint coming from certain SCOTUS judges to reverse progress on marriage equality is anti-family. Is the high court going to force divorce on happy couples, many raising children, by judicial decision?

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Mayor Pete, so moving what you have to say to people who might be struggling with whether and how to come out. As you were speaking, I was handed this, just in, Amy Coney Barrett's opening statement tomorrow has been released. And I want to read to you one part of that statement where she writes, "When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself, how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against? Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? Mayor Pete, what do you make of that?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Fairly reasoned and grounded in the law. Well, you know, two of her would-be colleagues, Justice Alito and Justice Thomas, wrote a memo last week essentially putting marriage equality back on the table in their minds. So she really wants to understand the party she might rule against, I guess I would invite her to follow that process and put herself in the shoes of somebody who was married and then was effectively forcibly divorced by judicial fiat, told that they were no longer married to their spouse, told that their family was no longer a family because of the ideological commitments of people wearing black robes on that bench. Would we think of that as fairly reasoned? Maybe she would. I don't think that I would. And I guess I would just hold her to that, if she is going to be a part of the majority stripping away a right to choose, a right to vote, a right to get health care, and maybe even a right to be married, from people whose well-being and whose lives depend on her interpretation of judicial philosophy.

CAPEHART: And I want to read one more section from her opening statement. And in this she says courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so and courts should not try. Just reading that, Mayor Pete, that troubles me beyond words. Your reaction.

BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I mean, look, this is what nominees do. They write the most seemingly unobjectionable dry stuff. But what I see in there is a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility. At the end of the day, rights in this country have been expanded because courts have understood what the true meaning of the letter of the law and spirit of the constitution is. And that is not about time traveling yourself back to the 18th century. And subjecting yourself to the same prejudices and limitations as the people who wrote these words. The Constitution is a living document because the English language is a living language. And you need to have some readiness to understand that in order to serve on the court in a way that is actually going to make life better. It was actually Thomas Jefferson himself who said that we might as well ask a man to still wear the coat which fitted him when he was a boy as expect future generations to live under what he called the regime of their barbaric ancestors. So even the founders that they claim fidelity to, understood ideological descendants and the importance of keeping with the times, and we deserve judges and justices who understand that.

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