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‘You’re Fundamentally Wrong On Civics’: Rachel Maddow Explains The Constitution To Rick Santorum

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One of the greatest match-ups in the world of modern politics has to be top liberal journalist Rachel Maddow interviewing one of the most right-wing anti-gay political crusaders, Rick Santorum. And it was. Watch.

Rick Santorum knows people who used to be gay but no longer are, regrets his infamous statement comparing same-sex marriage with “man-on-dog” marriage – though stands by his beliefs surrounding it – and doesn’t “spend a whole lot of time thinking about” issues like same-sex marriage or if people choose to be gay.

So he said Wednesday night when he sat down with MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow for a heated and powerful interview that ended up revealing far more than the Republican former U.S. Senator who is again running for president bargained for – including getting a lesson on how the Constitution actually works.

“Can I ask you if you believe people choose to be gay?,” Maddow gently inquired.

“You know, I’ve never answered that question because I don’t really know the answer to that question,” Santorum, guardedly responded. Which is a bit stunning since he has worked closely with people who are gay, and has claimed to have good friends who are gay. 

“I suspect that there’s all sorts of reasons that people end up the way they are. And I’ll sort of leave it at that,” Santorum said, trying to wiggle out of a politically dangerous answer. “There are people who are alive today who identified themselves as gay and lesbian and who no longer are. That’s true. I do know — I’ve met people in that case,” he offered, after Maddow pushed for a better answer. 

“So, I guess maybe in that case, may be they did” choose to not be gay, Santorum concluded.

Not satisfied, Maddow continued.

“Do you think people choose to – people can choose to be heterosexual?”

“All I’m saying,” Santorum insisted, “I do know people who have lived a gay lifestyle and no longer live it.”

“Again, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about these things to be very honest,” he added.

Maddow reminded him that he talks about gay issues and LGBT rights “all the time.” She brought up his 2003 interview when he told a reporter that since the Supreme court had just struck down the ban on sodomy, he said it was a slippery slope to legalizing “man on child, man on dog, whatever the case may be.”

Santorum told Maddow he regretted that remark.

“It was a flippant comment that should have come out of my mouth. But the substance of what I said, which is what I’ve referred to, I stand by that. I wish I had not said it in a flippant term that I did, and I know people were offended by it, and I wish I hadn’t said it.”

But he couldn’t bring himself to apologize for it.

The two began the interview with a debate over the Constitution. 

Santorum offered his view, which is that Congress and the President have as much right to say a law is unconstitutional as does the Supreme court, and he strongly suggested that the opinions of the legislative and executive branches of government are equal to that of the supreme Court on constitutional law.

The Supreme Court is “not a superior branch of government. I mean, if the Congress comes back and says, you know, we disagree with you and were able to pass a law and get it signed by the president and say, courts, you’re wrong, I mean,” Santorum argued, forcing Maddow to interject.

Here’s the exchange, via Real Clear Politics:

SANTORUM: Why not? Why? 

MADDOW: You can amend the Constitution. 

SANTORUM: Why?

MADDOW: They’re ruling on the constitutionality of that law. 

SANTORUM: What if they’re doing it with an — from an unconstitutional basis? I mean —

MADDOW: They decide what’s constitutional. That’s how our government works.

SANTORUM: No, no, that’s not necessarily true. The Congress has the right. 

When I took my oath of office as a United States senator, what did I say? I would uphold the Constitution. 

And my feeling is, and I think it’s clearly from our founding documents, that the Congress has a right to say what’s constitutional. The president has a right to say what’s constitutional. And that’s part of the dynamic called checks and balances. 

MADDOW: Yes. But — I mean, you’re fundamentally wrong on civics, right? If there is, if there is a question as to the constitutionality of a law, it gets adjudicated. 

SANTORUM: Right.

MADDOW: And the second syllable of that word means it get decided in the judiciary, the Supreme Court decides whether or not a law is constitutional. So, you could not now pass a law – 

SANTORUM: But if they have —

MADDOW: — that said we’re banning same sex marriage.

The debate went back and forth, with Santorum at one point explaining his view of how the Supreme court decided that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

“I think what was going on with this court is what Justice Kennedy was saying. You know, we sort of see this definition of liberty is whatever we want it to be. And this is sort of where the culture is going right now and so this is what we’re going to do,” Santorum insisted, wholly ignoring the 14th Amendment on which the Court based its opinion.

“He didn’t tie to it any constitutional basis,” Santorum insisted, wrongly. “There’s no precedent that set — that gives him the ability to create this new right in the Constitution,” he decried, again ignoring that the Supreme Court has many times stated marriage is a fundamental right.

“And so, if it’s created on a whole cloth, it can be re-created in a different way out of whole cloth. And I think that’s the role of the Congress is to pressure the court to get it right.”

UPDATE –
The video at the top is what MSNBC provided, it is not the complete interview. For real political junkies, here’s the complete interview, which includes the beginning portion that MSNBC cut:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g2FKzhB9Os 

 

Image: Screenshot via MSNBC
Transcript via Real Clear Politics

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Ten Commandments Governor Declares No Church-State Separation in Rough Fox News Interview

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Louisiana Republican Governor Jeff Landry appeared surprised in a Friday Fox News interview when asked to defend his newly-signed law requiring the Bible’s Ten Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom throughout the state, which critics say is unconstitutional.

Speaking about the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed at least a half-dozen times, Landry declared: “I challenge anyone who says that to go find me those words in the First Amendment. They don’t exist.”

He went on to claim those who want to “extract” what he claims are America’s Judeo-Christian principles “out of the foundation of this country…really and truly want to create the chaos that ultimately is the demise of this nation.”

On Thursday in a signing ceremony Landry declared the Bible’s Moses is the “original lawgiver,” a claim some challenged as a cultural choice and not an accurate one, given there are others that date back earlier, to ancient Greece, Babylon,  and India.

READ MORE: ‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns

“You’ve heard the criticism, it seems to be pouring in. Was it still the right thing to do?” Governor Landry was asked Friday afternoon.

“I mean, I didn’t know that living the Ten Commandments is a bad way to live life,” Landry replied, not touching the obvious and likely unconstitutional nature of the legislation he proudly signed 24 hours earlier. “I didn’t know that it was so vile to obey the Ten Commandments. I think that that speaks volumes about how eroded this country has become. I mean, look, this country was, was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and every time we steer away from that we have problems in our nation. I mean, right now schools teach, basically treat kids like critters and get the Ten Commandments is something bad to put in schools? It just it’s amazing.”

The founders clearly intended to create a secular, not religious government and took great care, including in the First Amendment, to ensure no religion was favored and individuals had the right to observe any faith, multiple faiths, or none at all.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“For those listening right now, they’re wondering, what’s the goal?” Fox News host Sandra Smith continued. “Because it’s not as if this is going to be taught in every school and classroom. This is just being displayed on the walls. So my question to you is, how is this going to improve the school environment and the performance of kids in those schools? When Governor, I pull up the report cards of these public schools and Louisiana is struggling, I mean, it is at the bottom of the country. The education system is failing these kids. I mean, Louisiana is 43, 44th in math and reading. So is this gonna help what is a very big problem in Louisiana?”

“Look, I think it’s part and parcel for helping kids anywhere around the country, if other states followed our suits, but at the same time that we signed that bill into law, we signed a string of others assign 20 bills, including this one, to reform Louisiana schools.”

Experts note that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1980.

Sandra Smith’s remarks about Louisiana failing are accurate. According to U.S. News and World Report, Louisiana ranks 47th in education, 50th in crime, 49th in the economy, 46th in health care, and overall, it ranks last, at number 50.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

RELATED: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

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‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines the right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court once again targeted the landmark 2015 Obergefell same-sex marriage decision, leading liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor to sound “alarm bells” on marriage equality in her dissent a legal expert says, warning that they may try to “roll it back.”

The case involves Sandra Muñoz, a U.S. citizen who argued that the federal government’s denial of a visa for her husband, who lives in El Salvador, deprives her of her constitutionally protected right to liberty.

The right-wing majority in a decision written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett ruled: “A citizen does not have a fundamental liberty interest in her noncitizen spouse being admitted to the country.”

Friday’s ruling “undermines same-sex marriage,” Bloomberg Law reports Justice Sotomayor’s dissent warns.

Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern has covered the courts since 2013, and is the author of a 2019 book on the Roberts Supreme Court.

“Justice Sotomayor, in dissent, accuses the conservative supermajority of cutting back the rights guaranteed in Obergefell—the same-sex marriage decision—and of repeating ‘the same fatal error’ it made in Dobbs,” Stern writes. “A very ominous opinion.”

READ MORE: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

The “fatal error” in Dobbs was ignoring precedent.

“Justice Sotomayor says the burden of today’s decision will ‘fall most heavily’ on same-sex couples, many of whom cannot safely reside in the non-citizen’s home country,” Stern adds. “Her dissent is littered with alarm bells about Obergefell.”

He points to this from Sotomayor’s dissent, a citation from the Obergefell decision:

“A traveler to the United States two centuries ago reported that ‘‘[t]here is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America.’ ‘ ”

“Today,” Sotomayor continued, “the majority fails to live up to that centuries-old promise. Muñoz may be able to live with her husband in El Salvador, but it will mean raising her U. S.-citizen child outside the United States. Others will be less fortunate. The burden will fall most heavily on same-sex couples and others who lack the ability, for legal or financial reasons, to make a home in the noncitizen spouse’s country of origin.”

Again quoting Obergefell, she adds, “For those couples, this Court’s vision of marriage as the ‘assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other’ rings hollow.”

Stern warns: “I think Justice Sotomayor is clearly correct that the Supreme Court’s gratuitous attack on the constitutional rights of married couples in Muñoz—especially same-sex couples—suggests that the conservative justices hate Obergefell and may roll it back.”

Sotomayor began her dissent also with a quote from Obergefell: “The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition.”

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

She warns that the right-wing majority could have appropriately issued a narrow ruling but instead chose to hand down a broad decision:

“The majority could have resolved this case on narrow grounds under longstanding precedent,” she writes. “Instead, the majority today chooses a broad holding on marriage over a narrow one on procedure.”

Justice Sotomayor again points to same-sex marriage:

“Muñoz may be able to live in El Salvador alongside her husband or at least visit him there, but not everyone is sovereign lucky. The majority’s holding will also extend to those couples who, like the Lovings and the Obergefells, depend on American law for their marriages’ validity. Same-sex couples may be forced to relocate to countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, or even those that criminalize homosexuality.”

She also noted, “The constitutional right to marriage has deep roots,” and “The constitutional right to marriage is not so flimsy,” while warning “the majority departs from longstanding precedent and gravely undervalues the right to marriage in the immigration context.”

Two years ago almost to the day, when the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade and stripping away the constitutional right to abortion, Stern warned the Court, especially Justice Thomas, would come for contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage:

Two years before Dobbs, Stern also warned Justice Thomas was targeting same-sex marriage, writing that “Thomas (joined by Alito) wrote a jaw-dropping rant taking direct aim at Obergefell and suggesting that SCOTUS must overturn the right to marriage equality in order to protect free exercise.”

READ MORE: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

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‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

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Jumping on Louisiana’s controversial and likely unconstitutional new law mandating posters of a specific version of the Bible’s Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, Donald Trump overnight declared the nation “desperately” needs a religious “revival” and called for the religious text to be placed in classrooms across America.

Critics point out that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 found a similar law unconstitutional.

“The high court found that the law had no secular purpose but rather served a plainly religious purpose,” the Associated Press reports.

And while some lawmakers are insisting it is a historical document, remarks by Republican Governor Jeff Landry and the bill’s co-author, Republican state Rep. Lauren Ventrella, would appear to undermine that defense.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“I love the Ten Commandments in public schools, private schools, and many other places, for that matter. Read it — how can we, as a nation, go wrong??? This may be, in fact, the first major step in the revival of religion, which is desperately needed, in our country. bring back TTC!!! MAGA2024” Trump wrote on Truth Social in his all-caps post.

Some critics have been noting Trump has violated many if not most of the Ten Commandments. Some have listed the Ten Commandments and what they say are Trump’s actions in comparison to them.

MSNBC‘s Steve Bennen observed, “Trump is touting the Ten Commandments, despite the fact that he’s broken most of them. No graven images? Check. Honoring the Sabbath? Check. No adultery? Check. No stealing? Check. No bearing false witness? Big ol’ check. No coveting a neighbor’s wife? Check.”

Retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Judge Bob Orr wrote: “The GOP and Trump want parents controlling the books that are in schools NOT educators…but their ok with educators being responsible for teaching children to follow the Ten Commandments – a responsibility that belongs at home with the parents and the church.”

Earlier this week, before Trump’s declaration, The Lincoln Project posted a video on Trump’s relationship to the religious document.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

 

 

 

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