INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said he misunderstood the question when he told reporters that the Supreme Court was wrong to legalize interracial marriage nationwide and should instead allow individual states to decide such issues.
Braun made the comments Tuesday during a press call to discuss his evaluation of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings for the judge.
The GOP lawmaker said he wants a justice who won’t be an “activist" and won't "legislate from the bench.” Braun said such judicial activism includes the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in 1973.
When asked if he applied the same reasoning to the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967 that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage, Braun said he believes many of the Supreme Court’s civil rights decisions have improperly established federal rights that would be better handled on a state-by-state basis.
When the senator was asked directly if he supported the Supreme Court “leaving the question of interracial marriage to the states,” Braun responded, “Yes.”
“I think if you’re not wanting the Supreme Court to weigh in on issues like that, you’re not going to be able to have your cake and eat it, too. I think that’s hypocritical,” Braun said. “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. 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 released a statement hours later, walking back his comments. He said he misunderstood “a line of questioning" and emphasized that he condemns racism “in any form.”
“Earlier during a virtual press conference I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage,” Braun said. “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 Indiana Democratic Party condemned Braun’s original statements as “not only un-American, but beneath any respectable person wishing to hold public office.”
“The United States Supreme Court has affirmed many times that marriage equality in our country extends to any committed couple regardless of sex, race, orientation, or religious affiliation, and to question that legitimacy questions the very fabric of America and its people,” said Mike Schmuhl, Indiana Democratic chairman.