Roundtable I: Historic Marriage Ruling

Peggy Noonan, Matthew Dowd, Terry Moran, and Rep Donna F. Edwards
10:17 | 06/30/13

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Transcript for Roundtable I: Historic Marriage Ruling
Brian brown, thanks very much. Let's bring in the roundtable. Terry moran, peggy noonan of the wall street journal, political analyst, newly mustached matthew dowd. And congresswoman dawn edwards, democrat of maryland. Let me begin with you. You heard the discussion, particularly on the doma case. And I was struck, most of all, by the sweep of justice kennedy's opinion. And I want to show one part of it. He said the federal statute is invalid for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the state by its marriage laws sought to protect personhood. No legitimate purpose? How does it survive that? Those are the three most important words in the ruling. The court said congress could have no reason, no reason they could treat gay married les differently. The court could have said congress shouldn't overstep its bounds, shouldn't tell the state what marriage is, let the states decide. But the justice's opinion goes further. He picked up the most powerful and irresistible force in the constitution, the principle of equality and in the broadest and most ringing terms, framed the claims of gay americans in that. That's hard to stop for those who don't approve of the decision. I think it was a pretty emotionally written and almost emotionally charged decision. Here's the problem. While the kennedy decision seems to make a lot of -- of suggestions about federalism and that the states can decide, the fact is because kennedy says that the logic of his decision that one can be against same-sex marriage only for reasons of bigotry and wanting to cause injury, if that is so, as it's played out in 37 states, chad griffin the of the human rights campaign said you go referendum, legislative, the courts, whatever it take s. It is hard to believe that any court won't look at the kenny decision and say the court has spoken to be against same-sex marriage for traditional marriage is unkind by definition and not constitutionally supported. To me, there are many people among conservatives who think you know what, this seemed okay in some respects, but we're back to roe versus wade. It is the nationalization of this decision. Justice scalia, to you, congresswoman, do whatever they can get away with. I look at justice kennedy's opinion, and agree with the sentiment and the mortality behind it. If I were to vote, I would vote against doma as well. But is seemed that justice scalia's logic was unassailable. The government said we're not going to fight it. What are we doing here? There were plenty of people, both through the amicus process and others putting it forward. Court could have come to a different conclusion. It's almost three strikes your out, doma, prop 8, and the state bans. And I think that's appropriate. We have a debate in our state, I'm from a state that passed marriage equality on the ballot, but still in some communities within om of our african-american communities and churches, it's a really difficult issue. But this is about what states do, what the federal government does with respect to its citizens, doesn't impact what churches and faith communities do within the confines of their church. How does this play out, matthew? To me, this is the court trying to catch up to america in the 21st century. If you look at the series of court decisions over the last week and a half, conservatives are mad at this one, liberals were mad at the other ones, voting rights act and affirmative action. Could be angry. But the country decided this issue. The country has decided. Whether the states will catch up -- even though there's 37 states? No. Let me give you an example of this. IN THE 1960s, THE COURT SAID Bans on interracial marriage would no longer exist. 20% was for that. Today more than half is for gay marriage. They are trying to catch up. They are dealing with the ghosts of the past. Trying to hold on to tradition, and make the balancing act and catch up to the 21st century america. But they are letting the country's conversation continue. They didn't nationalize all of gay marriage. The reason it didn't happen, justice kennedy clearly wanted to take the prop 8 case. Exactly, he would have had to have done a dizzying about-face to run away from the language in the doma case. It was only the judicial restraint of the three liberals, ginsburg, kagan and breyer who said not to decide it. Let the conversation continue. How about the fast track? I wonder how it's going to continue from here. To you, I'm torn here. You can see the heat behind it with brian brown and chad griffin. On the other hand you also get the sense that a whole lot of people would just as soon have it go away, not be part of politics. That's true, but I feel like the process now in 37 states -- that's a whole lot of states -- will in effect be a little shorter, more truncated, more strangled than it otherwise would have been on issues like this. We forget as a culture a certain amount of patience, a certain amount of ease, talk about it, think about it, vote, leave it up to the people. It's better when the people vote. When you get something like a jump ahead on roe, whatever you think of roe versus wade, that'll cause trouble and tension forever. I'm disappointed we're not going the other route. In 2016 -- that's the point. So again, the court is actually way further behind the country. This isn't roe versus wade or interracial marriage. Most of the supports gay marriage and a definition of marriage broader than between a man and a woman. This makes 2016 unbelievably important. There are a number of justices that are at the age that are going to retire or something awful could happen. Whoever is elected president in 2016 is probably going to have two or possibly three court justices. These 5-4 decisions, one or two changes, 2016 becomes important. But if a ban comes to the court, the ban I think goes down. Goes down. Let's move to race and the big questions about affirmative action and the voting rights act. It seems like affirmative action lives to fight another day, maybe hanging on by a thread. The voting rights act gutted. It was in my opinion. I think that what the court did was basically said there's no way to enforce these strong provisions in section 5 that apply to the pre-clearance states. And I think that that's a problem. I think the congress is really going to have to come back, set up a formula. What's amazing is that the court didn't even give notice to the fact that 15,000 pages of legislative history underpin the last authorization of the voting rights act, and so I think, you know, it's problematic. But it was based on very old data, peggy. It was. It was based on a law from '64, '65. The decision suggests that it is not fair -- it is not unfair to roughly every half century to look at the realities around you, compare them to the realities when the law was made, see where you are. If there seems to be justification, an argument for lifting a part of the act, then they can legitimately do it. It seems to me, however, that the voting rights act is actually voting rights legislation always. And it's not the supreme court's job, it is the congress's job. In 2006, the congress did its job by, you know, two years of legislative hearings, 21 legislative hearings on the voting right act reauthorization. 15,000 pages of documents. Testimony from experts. Just because a law has been in place for a long time doesn't mean it's not a good one. Erstood, but I think you can fairly argue that some progress has been made since the 1960s. Look at last elections, we have seen time after time where state after state, jurisdiction after jurisdiction try to put in place barriers. Overt barriers like in 1964? Not necessarily, but still barriers to voting for african-americans. We're still trapped in a time that in the state it didn't exist. Virginia is an example. Virginia is one of those nine states that was out for special scrutiny. Virginia today is not the virginia of 1965. It was carried by the president twice, an african-american candidate. The restrictions are different today than then. The congress and the president should deal with it. This is not a 13 or 15 state problem. This is a 51 state problem. And you get the last word. What's happening in this congress? It's pretty much the most successful law passed in the country. It changed american democracy. We have a different country because of the voting rights act. Congress did decide that even though the formula was old, they fo in those states, voting rights violations are -- run at a higher rate than other states. They made a political decision to do this. This was an activist decision. But there's no question that the supreme court declared what the law is. We will find out. The court said no george wallace, no need for this. We'll find that out because the states will rapidly test that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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