Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham questions President Donald Trumps Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett during the third day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020 (SARAH SILBIGER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator overseeing the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, has compared same-sex marriage to polygamy.
During the third day of hearings on Wednesday (October 14), the fervent Trump supporter and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman appeared to push back against Democrats on the committee who had questioned Barrett over her record on equal marriage by resorting to a tired slippery slope allusion straight out of the early 2000s.
Noting the court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, Graham asked: “Is there any constitutional right to a polygamous relationship?”
Barrett, who has repeatedly declined to give any substantial answer on whether she supports the Obergefell ruling, responded: “That might be a question that could be litigated. Polygamy in many places is illegal, now, but that could be an issue somebody might litigate before the court at some point.”
Seeking to explain Barrett’s repeated evasiveness on equal marriage, Graham – who in 2013 said that same-sex weddings would help to normalise paedophilia – elaborated.
“Somebody might make the argument that it’s possible for three people to love each other genuinely, and that might work its way to the court if somebody wanted to make that argument,” he said.
“When it’s likely that case and controversies around the holding of a particular case are going to come to the court, there’s only so much you can tell us about what you may do.”Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks as Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Earlier on in his questioning, Graham appeared to concede that Barrett’s appointment to the court could effectively abolish the already-fragile majority that led to same-sex marriage in all 50 states — but insisted that a move to overturn the precedent would not necessarily re-ban couples from getting married.
Graham said: “We talk about laws legalising same-sex marriage… if anybody tried to change that precedent, one of the things you would look at is a reliance interest that people have formed around that legislation.
“Reaching a decision that the case was wrongly decided doesn’t end the debate in terms of whether or not it should be repealed. There’s a very rigorous process in place to overturn precedent.”
Graham’s hollow assurances that Barrett would not immediately act to abolish same-sex marriage are unlikely to appease supporters of LGBT+ rights as much as the Republican lawmaker might have hoped — given her confirmation to the court threatens to blow a hole in LGBT+ civil rights and “freedom to discriminate” cases which are yet to go before the court.
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has a troubling history on LGBT+ issues.
Elsewhere in her confirmation hearing, Amy Coney Barrett pleaded ignorance over her extensive ties with anti-LGBT+ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom – claiming she was not aware of the group’s work lobbying against the decriminalisation of homosexuality when she took money from it for lectures over a number of years.
A report by Human Rights Campaign released ahead of the Senate hearings warns that Barrett has “demonstrated hostility toward LGBT+ rights in her words and rulings”.
“President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States is a direct threat to the constitutional rights of everyday Americans and to the LGBTQ community in particular,” it reads.
As detailed in the report, Barrett has previously misgendered transgender people, referring to a transgender women as “physiological males” as she questioned their basic rights.
She also took an opposite view from the court on whether anti-discrimination protections extend to transgender Americans, claiming in a 2016 lecture that it’s a “strain on the text” to reach that interpretation.
The nominee also signed a public letter in 2015 stating her support for “marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman”.