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Brownback Turns Harder to the Right, as if That Were Possible

The recent ruling by the Supreme Court not to take up the various appeals courts’ rulings on marriage equality cases has forced Sam Brownback into a corner. He’s in a big fight for reelection, with moderate Republicans bailing on the ultra-conservative GOP in Kansas. He faced a choice between two electoral strategies: (1) tone down the rightwing rhetoric, and reach out to the disaffected GOP moderates, or (2) write off the moderate vote and focus on ginning up the far right to boost their turnout numbers in November.

Brownback has gone with #2.

First came the parade of endorsements and campaign visits from such GOP conservative heroes (and presidential wannabes) as John McCain, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry. Each one came throwing red meat to the right, looking to boost their own profile while helping Brownback win his election. Despite this parade of luminaries, the race remains extremely close, and Brownback can’t shake his democratic challenger. But how could he become even more right wing?

Today in Wichita, we see the answer.

Brownback is campaigning today alongside the Kansas branch of the American Family Association, a group cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist hate group for their virulent anti-LGBT words and deeds, at an event billed as “Standing for the American Family and Traditional Marriage.” Angry at the refusal of the Supreme Court to step in to defend their conservative views of marriage, Brownback put out a brief but telling statement:

I swore an oath to support the Constitution of the State of Kansas. An overwhelming majority of Kansas voters amended the Constitution to include a definition of marriage as one man and one woman. Activist judges should not overrule the people of Kansas.

From his perch in the afterlife, Governor George Wallace can be heard giving a loud “Amen!”

Back in February, when the Virginia marriage equality ban was struck down, I wrote:

For a lawyer to stand up in a federal courtroom in Virginia of all places and argue that the state cannot reshape its definition of marriage is about the stupidest legal argument a lawyer could make, as Wright Allen gently but firmly points out here. (Of course, the way things are going in Kansas these days, I would not be surprised to see their state AG argue in the near future that Brown v. Board of Education was wrongly decided and should be overturned. But that’s another post . . . )

That would be this post.

It takes a mighty brave Kansas governor to argue that the logic employed to decide Brown v Board of Education was wrong, as well as endorsing the overturning of a long parade of cases going back to Marbury v Madison which said it is precisely the job of the courts to determine what the law is and whether it meets or conflicts with the constitution. But that’s where Brownback has gone in his quest for reelection. As I wrote last April,

In a ring that circles the ceiling of the legislative chambers of the Kansas Capitol building, various famous 19th century Kansans are honored, including a rather intemperate pro-Union anti-slavery activist named John Brown. Within that chamber, the calls are loud and long to embrace the doctrine of nullification. Whether it’s to get out from under environmental laws, Obamacare, gun laws, abortion, or something else, the Kansas GOP is the modern incarnation of the Old South in demanding the right to ignore the laws of the federal government.

Think about that again: the state that embraces its history of defending the Union in the 19th century is leading the fight in the 21st century to vindicate the Old South’s vision of a state veto over any law with which they disagree.

Never mind overturning Brown v Board of Education — with his appeals to states rights and nullification, Brownback seems to want to overturn Grant v Lee.


h/t for the photo to Roger Sayles aka Serfs Up! and used under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.