Ron Johnson Thinks Court Will Respect Same-Sex Marriage Despite Roe Reversal


WASHINGTON ― Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Thursday that proposed federal legislation protecting same-sex marriage is unnecessary because the Supreme Court will “never” overturn its 2015 ruling legalizing marriage equality.

Johnson pointed to the principles of “stare decisis,” a judicial concept that favors the continuation of established precedent, as the reason why same-sex marriage is safe.

“I mean, stare decisis protects decisions that if they were overturned, it would disrupt people’s lives. I don’t want to disrupt people’s lives,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

The Supreme Court did just that in July, however, when it overturned federal abortion rights. Six conservative justices on the court voted to overrule a 50-year precedent that guaranteed a constitutional right to privacy ― the same precedent the Supreme Court relied on to legalize same-sex marriage by a 5-4 decision in 2015. One justice said the court should go even further and reexamine same-sex and interracial marriage.

Johnson called the overturning of Roe v. Wade “a victory for life” and suggested that abortion should be left up to the states.

The decision has had an immense impact on the nation: Most abortions are now illegal or heavily restricted in at least 12 states, with more states to come. Several GOP-led states have passed abortion bans with no exceptions for rape or incest. As a result, pregnant people — in some instances, girls as young as 10 years old — have been forced to travel out of state to obtain abortion services. Doctors are being advised not to offer abortion services even when a patient’s life is at risk to avoid legal consequences.

Asked by HuffPost why he believed same-sex marriage is safe, Johnson argued that the issue is “totally different” from abortion because the latter was about “protecting life in the future.”

“It seems like you can still get abortions all over the place,” Johnson said, suggesting the notion that people’s lives have been disrupted as a result of the decision is overblown.

The Senate is expected to vote this month on the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify marriage equality rights. Supporters of the bill are eyeing several changes in order to win over necessary GOP support, including by making sure it does not protect polygamous relationships or marriage between more than two individuals and that it does not infringe on religious liberty.

Johnson, who previously said he saw “no reason to oppose” the bill, is now suggesting he won’t vote for it without an amendment protecting religious freedom. The Wisconsin Republican is facing a competitive reelection challenge this year from Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.

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