Right-wing Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana (R) quickly backtracked on March 22 2022 after offering interracial marriage as an example of issues that the Supreme Court, in his opinion, should leave up for individual states to decide.
Braun made the remark to a reporter from The Times of Northwest Indiana during a phone conference with several journalists:
“You would be okay with the Supreme Court leaving the question of interracial marriage to the states?” the reporter asked.
“Yes,” Braun responded. “I think that that’s something that if you’re not wanting the Supreme Court to weigh in on issues like that, you’re not gonna be able to have your cake and eat it too. I think that’s hypocritical.”
Video of the exchange posted on Twitter by progressive news site the Heartland Signal confirmed Braun’s remark:
As the footage and the quote spread online, Braun sent a statement to the Washington Post backpedaling:
I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage. Let me be clear on that issue — there is no question the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind based on race, that is not something that is even up for debate, and I condemn racism in any form, at all levels and by any states, entities, or individuals.
The right to interracial marriage in the U.S., settled by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, was one of several examples of precedents Braun said he felt should be left for individual states to decide, along with Roe v. Wade (1973), which established the right to abortion; and Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which protected the purchase and use of contraception.
“You can list a whole host of issues, when it comes down to whatever they are, I’m going to say they’re not going to all make you happy within a given state,” Braun said. “But we’re better off having states manifest their points of view, rather than homogenizing it across the country as Roe v. Wade did.”
Braun argued that these types of issues would best be solved through individual state legislation, adding, “Quit trying to put the federal government in charge.” He did not mention that members of his party have carried out a documented push for anti-voter legislation.
As The Guardian reported in December 2021, 32 laws passed in seventeen states that would “hijack the election process,” with many of them in states targeted by former United States President Donald Trump in his campaign to push the lie that he never lost the 2020 presidential election:
Arizona, where Trump supporters insisted on an “audit” to challenge Biden’s victory in the state, has introduced 20 subversion bills, and Georgia where Trump attempted to browbeat the top election official to find extra votes for him has introduced 15 bills.
Texas, whose ultra-right Republican group has made the state the ground zero of voter suppression and election interference, has introduced as many as 59 bills.
Braun, a first-term senator, initially signaled his support for Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election but ultimately voted to certify the results in January 2021.
Before he backtracked, Braun’s remark regarding interracial marriage fell in line with Republican attacks against marriage and contraception-related rulings by the high court during Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated to the court by President Joe Biden. As the Washington Post noted:
On Monday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), during her questioning of Jackson, said she opposes Griswold, calling the decision “constitutionally unsound.”
Similarly, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) questioned Jackson on the court’s authority in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized marriage equality — which he called an “edict.”
Republican lawmakers have also attempted to paint Jackson as “soft” against sex offenders, an apparent signal to supporters of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. Some have also used their time to question Jackson to air complaints and grudges about the questioning of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett during their respective confirmation hearings.
On May 4 2022 Braun weighed into another cultural issue as part of a group of right-wing lawmakers who sent a letter to Steve Rivkin, chair of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, asking for separate ratings for shows that included any LGBTQ+ characters. The letter suggested, with no concrete evidence, that because Disney wanted to include non-heterosexual characters in programming on its Disney+ streaming service, that doing so would promote “sexually-related content.”
“There should be a warning label put up every time Mike Braun goes on TV because his antics are more about extreme partisanship and debunked conspiracies than actually creating a better future for all Hoosiers,” the Indiana Democratic Party told WTHR-TV in response. “Mike Braun sure seems to care a lot about other peoples’ love lives — from telling LGBTQ Hoosiers how they should act to believing that interracial marriages should be voided.”
Update 5/6/2022, 11:19 a.m. PST: Updated to reflect Braun’s inclusion in a letter seeking new ratings for television content inclusive of LGBTQIA characters. -ag