As Congressional hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch get underway this week, we would love to hear a line of questioning around the 14th Amendment of the Consititution. Republicans love to advocate that they prefer "strict constructionists" on the court. We think the Democrats have a golden opportunity to hold them to that standard. Here is our suggested series of questions.
"Mr. Gorsuch, if you were on the Supreme Court, would you be a strict constructionist when interpreting the Constitution?"
Presumably the answer would be yes.
"Do you believe the Constitution applies to all US citizens?"
Again, the presumption is the answer will be yes.
"Do you believe the 14th Amendment applies to all US citizens?"
Another presumed yes answer.
"Let me read a particular clause of the 14th Amendment. 'Nor shall any State...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Now, I ask you specifically if that clause applies to all citizens within a state."
Another yes answer.
"Certainly, to be legally married offers a whole number of legal protections. As a Supreme Court justice, will you ensure that every State follows this strict construction of our Constitution and ensures the equal protection of the law to all of its citizens and affords each of its citizens their Constitutional right to marry who they want?"
We're guessing the answer won't be yes, but rather some high level mental gymnastics about state's rights. The problem with any such answer that this should be left to the States is that the Constitution is extremely clear that States cannot deny its citizens equal protection of the laws. There are hundreds of federal and state legal protections associated with mariage including visitation rights, social security benefits, property rights, etc.
While there are certainly many other critical areas of questioning for nominee Gorsuch, we'd love to hear this line of questioning as it goes to the heart of the "strict constructionist/state's rights" arguments that Republicans cherish.