Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has jumped the shark in his rhetoric about protecting the rights of some people, suggesting the country add nine amendments to the U.S. Constitution expressly to clarify that a state should be able to discriminate against anybody, including LGBT people.
Abbott’s plan, which he pitched at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual pep rally, would make the U.S. Constitution a third longer, adding laws that would make it clear that civil rights don’t extend to everyone. Clearly annoyed that the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the current constitution to say that gay people have a right to marry, just as straight people do, Abbott pitched nine new amendments that would revamp the law of the land, allowing the states to overturn a ruling of the court if it’s unpopular.
In a keynote address to the policy-makers, Abbott championed the U.S. Constitution, but proposed changes that would fundamentally change it. His pitches include requiring a super majority on the Supreme Court to overturn a state law and limiting the federal government’s authority to areas specifically outlined in the Bill of Rights. (Those patriots in the 1700s should have predicted radio, television and the Internet, otherwise, we can’t have a Federal Communications Commission.)
While Abbott described the plan as protection for state’s rights – “putting teeth in the 10th Amendment” – many of the proposed amendments seem aimed at giving states the ability deny rights to LGBT people, such as the right to marry.
The nine-point “Restoring the Rule of Law with States Leading the Way” – which Abbott also calls “The Texas Plan” (watch here) – would:
- Bar Congress from regulating activity that occurs within a single state.
- Keep administrative agencies from “creating federal law” (his words) and prohibit administrative agencies from pre-empting state law.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress or federal agency
- Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that find a state law unconstitutional (such as the June 2015 ruling that tossed out gay marriage bans across the country).
- Limit the power of the federal government to areas expressly mentioned in the Constitution.
- Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when they think the federal government oversteps.
- Require a balanced federal budget.
Several, including the one that would require a seven-justice super-majority vote of the Supreme Court, and limiting the federal government's powers to those expressly delegated to it in the Constitution, could be used against same-sex marriage or the rights of same-sex couples, according to the New Civil Rights Movement.
Others, such as prohibiting administrative agencies from pre-empting state law, could easily be used to push back federal civil rights and equal protection laws, like the current efforts by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that are codifying the belief that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already protects LGBT citizens from discrimination.
Abbott hasn’t been shy about his opposition to LGBT rights. As lieutenant governor, he defended the state’s gay marriage ban and he has supported so-called reparative therapy to counsel away homosexuality. As governor, he criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage.
While he sued the federal government 31 times as lieutenant governor, Abbott seems to prefer that the Constitution protect his freedom and the expression of people who agree with his beliefs.
In December, he encouraged the city of Orange to keep up a nativity display, as city officials worried that an atheist group might sue if they left it up. But then, he ordered that a winter solstice display removed from the Capitol because it spoofed the traditional nativity scene with images of the Founding Fathers and Statue of Liberty looking down on the Bill of Rights in the manger.
He also opposed HERO, the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, picking up the “No men in women’s restrooms” motto conservatives used to defeat the measure in November.
[h/t New Civil Rights Movement]