Flashback: Romney Compared Marriage Equality Case To Pro-Slavery Dred Scott Decision

As ThinkProgress reported this morning, a top Romney surrogate told socially moderate Republicans this week that the GOP presidential candidate wouldn’t actually threaten Roe v. Wade if elected president, despite months of campaign rhetoric to the contrary. In addition to attacking Roe, Romney’s promised more justices who will immunize powerful corporations from the law, who are likely to roll back key victories for equality, who think the wealthy should be allowed to buy elections, and who believe corporations are people.

Perhaps the most telling sign of how Romney views the judiciary, however, is an op-ed he published just a few months after Masschusetts’ landmark Goodridge decision, which recognized that marriage equality is required under that state’s constitution. In his op-ed, Romney compared Goodridge to the most infamous court decision in American history:

Beware of activist judges. The Legislature is our lawmaking body, and it is the Legislature’s job to pass laws. As governor, it is my job to carry out the laws. The Supreme Judicial Court decides cases where there is a dispute as to the meaning of the laws or the constitution. This is not simply a separation of the branches of government, it is also a balance of powers: One branch is not to do the work of the other. . . .

With the Dred Scott case, decided four years before he took office, President Lincoln faced a judicial decision that he believed was terribly wrong and badly misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution. Here is what Lincoln said: “If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.” By its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts circumvented the Legislature and the executive, and assumed to itself the power of legislating. That’s wrong.

Mitt Romney is no Abraham Lincoln, and Goodridge could not be any more opposite the Court’s pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott. Dred Scott claimed that black people are “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

And yet, after drawing a comparison between extending the blessings of liberty to all Americans and keeping millions of innocents in shackles, Romney now wants to be able to choose the next justices on the Supreme Court.

[HT: Jeremy Hooper]