Friday, June 28, 2013

Chris Christie hates DOMA ruling, reveals abject ignorance of American constitutionalism

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As you may have heard, sometime Republican superstar Chris Christie, the bullying blowhard (and media-friendly) governor of New Jersey, isn't terribly impressed with the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The ruling is an "example of judicial supremacy," he said yesterday. "I don't think the ruling was appropriate," he opined. "I think it was wrong."

He criticized the justices, or at least five of them, for replacing "the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic president" with "their own judgment," adding: "I thought that Justice Kennedy's opinion was, in many respects, incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton."

Okay, we already knew Christie was a bigot -- yes, if you're against same-sex marriage, that's what you are, period. But what he showed with these comments is that he's an ignorant fool as well, with little regard for the checks, balances, and the rule of law.

Does he really have so little understanding of the Constitution, the history of the Supreme Court, and the concept of judicial review, particularly as established early on with Marbury v. Madison, one of the country's defining cases? 

This is what, in essence, the U.S. Supreme Court does. It rules on the constitutionality of federal laws, providing a check on the other two branches of government. And what it said on Wednesday is that DOMA is unconstitutional. It had every right to do so. It's in the fucking Constitution.

Furthermore, it hardly matters that DOMA was enacted by a Republican Congress and Democratic president, or by any partisan combination. That was 17 years ago. Clinton himself is now against it. And laws are not enacted for eternity.

But Christie is really just grasping at straws. He opposes same-sex marriage and so opposes the ruling simply because he doesn't like it. In so doing, though, he misunderstands or misrepresents checks and balances as "judicial supremacy." And in fact the 5-4 ruling was rather conservative. The justices may have struck down DOMA, but they did not issue a sweeping endorsement of same-sex marriage, one that would have required it immediately at the state level. Yes, the case against DOMA is essentially the case against state bans on same-sex marriage as well, but the Court effectively left it to states to address.

Christie is safe. He'll win re-election easily later this year, and of course he's done a lot of good in his state in response to Hurricane Sandy, not least by embracing Obama as his BFF last year. But behind the media-friendly pragmatism lies the core of an ideological conservative who in many ways isn't all that different than your standard Republican from anywhere else.

And his ridiculous take on the historic DOMA ruling just shows him to be a moron as well.

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