Rick Santorum: States Should Have Power To Ban Birth Control, Sodomy
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose strong base of evangelical Christian supporters has thrust him into contention in Iowa, said on Monday that he believes states should have the right to outlaw birth control and sodomy without the interference of the Supreme Court.
In an interview with Jake Tapper on ABC News, Santorum reiterated his opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling that prevented Connecticut from banning contraception.
“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that," he said. "It is not a constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have. That's the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court--they are creating rights, and it should be left up to the people to decide."
Santorum said he also opposes the Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision striking down a ban on sodomy in Texas and 13 other states. Even though he would not personally vote for a ban on sodomy, he said, he thinks states should legally be able to pass them, because sodomy is not a constitutionally protected right.
"I thought that law was an improper law ... but that doesn't mean the state doesn’t have a right to do that," he said.
Disdain for the Supreme Court is becoming a common thread among the GOP candidates. Rick Perry once slammed the Lawrence decision, describing it as the work of "nine oligarchs in robes," although he forgot what the case was about when a reporter asked him about it in Iowa last week. Newt Gingrich recently said he would ignore Supreme Court rulings he dislikes and impeach those judges that make what he believes are "anti-American decisions." Ron Paul has said he would leave many issues to the states, including abortion, same-sex marriage and religion, and frontrunner Mitt Romney agrees that states should have the right to ban abortion.
The political impact of allowing state legislatures to make decisions on social issues such as birth control, abortion and sex acts could be massive. In 2011 alone, state GOP lawmakers introduced 600 bills restricting abortion and passed a record 91 of those bills, and five states placed new restrictions on access to birth control and family planning. The 24 states that passed abortion restrictions stopped short of banning abortion entirely, only because they would face lengthy court battles if they passed bills that fly in the face of Supreme Court precedents preventing states from placing an "undue burden" on a woman's ability to seek an abortion.
For instance, the courts blocked Kansas from passing a law that would have shut down all three abortion clinics in the state, and prevented Nevada from putting a fetal personhood measure on the state ballot that would have banned abortion and certain kinds of birth control. Judges in three states -- Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas -- blocked the enforcement of laws defunding Planned Parenthood this year, unanimously ruling that state governments may not punish a particular health provider for offering abortion services.
The courts will be powerless to block those kinds of laws from going into effect if the GOP candidates have their way, and states would have the power to ban abortion, sodomy, birth control, gay marriage and whatever else a majority of state lawmakers morally oppose. Women and same-sex couples in socially conservative states would be out of luck.
But Santorum says if people have a problem with the laws in their state, they can just take their frustration to the voting booth.
"You shouldn’t create constitutional rights when states do dumb things," he told Tapper. "You should let the people decide if the states are doing dumb things, get rid of the legislature and replace them."
In the states that might vote to do this, are their policemen posted in every bedroom?