News (USA)

Supreme Court decisions highlight political challenges facing GOP

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks during a town hall meeting, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Exeter, N.H.
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks during a town hall meeting, Thursday, June 25, 2015, in Exeter, N.H. Jim Cole, AP

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To be sure, several Republicans running for president condemned the court’s same-sex marriage decision and pledged to continue to fight. “Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who entered the race this week.

“It doesn’t settle anything,” National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said in an interview before the ruling, comparing the gay marriage decision to the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade. “It’s just like Roe. Do you think Roe settled the abortion debate?”

The anti-gay marriage organization has given each Republican presidential contender two weeks to return a signed pledge that, among other things locks candidates into supporting a constitutional amendment “that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Some members of the GOP field signaled their openness to that idea on Friday. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Friday’s ruling “a grave mistake” and said “the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”

Still, several GOP candidates – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Bush among them – have said they would not support such an amendment. Rubio was also among those who tried to stake a middle ground on Friday.

“While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law,” Rubio said, echoing a statement by Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is expected to enter the 2016 contest in the coming weeks. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said, “The governor has always believed in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, but our nation’s highest court has spoken and we must respect its decision.”

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Unlike the marriage issue, Republican opposition to health care needs no qualifiers. The first paid advertisement in response to the court’s health care ruling came within an hour from Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit advocacy group founded by billionaire energy executives Charles and David Koch.

“We’ve been fighting this law for six years, and we’re going to make sure it stays right on the front burner,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. “We’ve always known repeal would be a long-term effort. We’ve never counted on the courts to do it for us. This law is fatally flawed and unpopular, so it makes perfect sense for candidates to keep talking about how it’s harming people.”

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