Last month, emerging GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich gave one of the most authoritarian speeches in recent American history. In it, Gingrich promised to openly defy Supreme Court decisions that he disagrees with, and to wage a campaign of intimidation against judges who decide cases in ways Gingrich does not like.
At a forum sponsored by three leading anti-gay groups this weekend, former GOP presidential frontrunner Herman Cain leaped onto this bandwagon, promising to defy a future Supreme Court decision striking down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act:
QUESTION: If the Perry case or a DOMA case gets to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court were to overturn DOMA or to find a quote-unquote U.S. constitutional right to same-sex marriage, if you were president, what would you do?
CAIN: I would lead the charge to overturn the Supreme Court if they overturned DOMA, whether that was new legislation coming out of the Congress like Rep. Bachmann said — the United States Congress is supposed to pass a law, so if they did overturn DOMA, that charge I would lead to reverse that.
The sole reason why the Supreme Court would strike down DOMA is because the anti-gay law is unconstitutional. The Constitution guarantees that no person will be denied “the equal protection of the laws,” and the last time we checked, gay people are people. More importantly, the Supreme Court has long held that groups which share an unchangeable trait and are “subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment, or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process” are entitled to heightened constitutional protection under the Constitution. Gay men and lesbians unquestionably qualify.
So when Herman Cain promises to push legislation reinstating DOMA, he is pledging to openly defy the Constitution. Congress has no power to ignore the Constitution itself, and it is as bound by the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions as is any other institution in the United States.
Not to be outdone, Gingrich followed up Cain’s radical statement by doubling down on his own authoritarianism. Immediately after Cain promised to defy a Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA, Gingrich said he would probably “educate the judiciary” by unconstitutionally removing any judges or justices who voted that the Constitution’s guarantee of equality actually applies to gay and lesbian Americans.