Last year, after Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his retirement, speculation mounted about whether President Obama could potentially appoint the first openly gay Justice. Conservatives were unsure how to respond to this possibility. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, initially considered the possibility, but ultimately agreed that an openly gay nominee would be “a big concern.” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) also said such an appointment “would be a bridge too far right now.” Focus on the Family surprised many by suggesting that it could, in fact, support a gay Justice. “The issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not,” spokesperson Bruce Hausknecht told The Plum Line in May of 2009.
With Justice John Paul Stevens now retiring, the question has been raised again. This time, however, Focus on the Family is not taking any chances. The group has issued a statement correcting “this mistake”:
It has been reported that we would not oppose any U.S. Supreme Court nominee over their ’sexual orientation.’ Our Judicial Analyst [Bruce Hausknecht] made a statement to this effect in an interview with The Plum Line. To be honest, this is one of those conversations we’d like to ‘do over.’ We can assure you that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God’s created intent and desire for humanity. Further, we at Focus do affirm that character and moral rectitude should be key considerations in appointing members of the judiciary, especially in the case of the highest court in the land. Sexual behavior–be it heterosexual or homosexual–certainly lies at the heart of personal morality.
Focus on the Family may have come back to its usual homophobic positions, but will conservative Republicans follow? On Monday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he would “have to think about” supporting an openly gay Justice. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with their job, it’s not a particular issue,” he said.
With Family’s reversal, how long will it take for Cornyn or any other Republican to remember that “homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God’s created intent” and reverse himself?
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.