Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson schooled a Republican senator who tried to get her to agree that conservative Christians’ religious freedom is being curtailed by marriage equality being legal. All she had to do was explain what a right is.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) brought up the 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic LGBTQ rights victory that secured marriage rights in all 50 states, at Jackson’s confirmation hearing today. Cornyn criticized the decision, arguing that it hurt religious freedom because many religious people oppose same-sex couples getting married and, therefore, have some kind of right to impose their religious beliefs on others.
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“Do you see that when the Supreme Court makes a dramatic pronouncement about the invalidity of state marriage laws that it will inevitably set in conflict between those who ascribe to the Supreme Court’s edict and those who have a firmly held religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman?” Cornyn asked.
Jackson responded that she can’t comment on the matter because there are currently cases being decided that involve such issues. She was probably referring to cases involving Christian business owners who argue that they shouldn’t be required to sell their goods and services to LGBTQ people because they are religiously opposed to same-sex marriage.
Cornyn wouldn’t drop the subject.
“I’m not asking you to decide a case!” he snapped back. “I’m just asking, isn’t it apparent that when the Supreme Court decides that something that is not even in the Constitution is a fundamental right and no state can pass any law that conflicts with the Supreme Court’s edict, particularly in an area where people have sincerely held religious beliefs, doesn’t that necessarily create a conflict between what people may believe is a matter of their religious doctrine or faith and what the federal government says is the law of the land?”
Jackson then explained to him that it’s not a violation of anyone’s religious freedom to not be able to take other people’s rights away.
“Well, senator, that is the nature of a right,” Jackson responded dryly, “that when there is a right, it means that are limitations on regulation, even if people are regulating pursuant to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”