In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia, unanimously finding that state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause, noting that these bans relied on "distinctions drawn according to race."
For decades, Loving v. Virginia has been viewed as settled law, not just in the Supreme Court, but in the court of public opinion, with support for interracial marriage hitting an all-time high of 94 percent last year. The case has repeatedly been cited in arguments for the expansion of same-sex marriage rights, with the Supreme Court itself citing the decision in handing down the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which ended same-sex marriage bans in the United States.
But with the increasing deference to white nationalism within the Republican party, even the Loving decision is under enhanced scrutiny from conservative elected officials.
For proof of this, one doesn't need to look further than recent comments by Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, who was recently asked by Dan Carden of The Times of Northwest Indiana if he would be okay with sending the interracial marriage question back to the states.
Watch his response below.
“Yes, I think that’s something ― 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.”
Under Braun's answer, state legislatures or public referendums would determine whether two consenting adults who happen to be of different races are eligible for marriage—the same restrictions imposed on same-sex couples until the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.
Braun's comments come amid the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who herself is in an interracial marriage, to the Supreme Court. When the nomination goes to the Senate floor, Braun will be one of the legislators voting on it.
After widespread outcry, Braun is attempting to walk back his answer, saying in a statement, telling HuffPost:
"Earlier during a virtual press conference I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage, 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.”
People are skeptical, to say the least.
Others warned that Braun's initial position corresponded with the GOP's broader vision for the country.