Several days ago I saw a post on my face book where someone said they might vote for a Republican candidate except for the fact that Republicans did not support social issues such as GLBT. Others have posted in a similar fashion and cited Republican support for overturning Roe v. Wade, etc. I have also seen posts citing the candidates’ religious affiliation and their positions on abortion issues and/or birth control.
This got me thinking that some voters may not be knowledgeable about our Constitution or have forgotten what they were taught about it and our system of government. I thought it might be a good time to look at a few of these social issues and see which of them might be important when choosing a candidate for president (and vice-president) and which ones you might want to ignore. For senators and congressmen some of the issues I will discuss might need to be looked at differently than for a presidential candidate.
The reason I say you might want to ignore some of the social issue positions cited by any candidate you are evaluating is because you may be missing an opportunity to elect the best candidate to the position of president. What do I mean by “best candidate?” I mean the one that will best serve the average citizen of this country and restore our government to that which was set-forth in the Constitution.
The first issue I would like to discuss is any candidate’s (president, vice-president, senator or congressman) position on abortion or overturning Roe v. Wade. The United States Supreme Court issued its decision on Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority vote, deeming abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution.
There is a term used in law referred to as “stare decisis (Let the decision stand).” It is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedent established by prior decisions. In a legal context, this is understood to mean that courts should generally abide by precedent and not disturb settled matters.
For stare decisis to be effective, each jurisdiction must have one highest court declare what the law is in a precedent-setting case. The U.S. Supreme Court and the state Supreme Courts serve as precedential bodies, resolving conflicting interpretations of law or dealing with issues of first impression. Whatever these courts decide becomes judicial precedent.
Under the concept of stare decisis and the fact this was a Supreme Court decision (thus making it the Law of the Land) there are only two ways that abortions could become illegal and/or Roe v. Wade overturned.
1. The U.S. Supreme Court could revisit the issues set-forth in Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court rarely overturns one of its precedents, but when it does, the ruling usually signifies a new way of looking at an important legal issue. For example, in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court repudiated the separate-but-equal doctrine it endorsed in Plessy v. Ferguson. The Court ignored stare decisis and renounced a legal precedent that had legitimizing racial segregation for almost sixty years.
2. An Amendment could be proposed to the Constitution that makes abortion illegal. I won’t go into detail about how Amendments are proposed but just state that they require ratification by three-fourths of the states within a reasonable period of time.
Under these conditions it is unreasonable to believe that any political candidate’s personal position on abortion or Roe v. Wade should be a consideration in voting for that candidate. At this juncture I believe it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will ever revisit this issue or that three-fourths of the states would ratify an Amendment to the Constitution making abortion illegal.
The next issue I’ll discuss is the one affecting the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. I don’t claim any in-depth knowledge of this entire issue but I do believe there are many sub-issues on this subject.
One of the “hot debates” currently being discussed regarding GLBT issues is “gay marriage.” Back in 1996 The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by large majorities in both houses of congress. It was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
It is now a United States federal law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for federal and interstate recognition purposes in the United States. Under the law, no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivors’ benefits, and the filing of joint tax returns.
Clinton and key legislators have since changed their views and advocated DOMA’s repeal. The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it had determined that section 3 was unconstitutional and, though it would continue to enforce the law, it would no longer defend it in court. In response, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives instructed the House General Counsel to defend the law in place of the Department of Justice.
Section 3 of DOMA has been found unconstitutional in seven federal courts on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration. As of 2012 five of those cases are awaiting a response for review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Many politicians are forced to take a strong position on the GBLT issues because of their own religious beliefs. In the case of a presidential candidate my personal opinion is it should not be a factor in whether you choose to vote for a given candidate or not.
The reason I say this is mainly because he or she will have little effect on the ultimate outcome on this subject. I believe the State Courts or the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide the issues involved.