The Corner

To Mark

Obviously I do favor the Journal and Hatch “position” in that I favor an amendment that would give power over same-sex marriage, civil unions, and related issues to state legislatures. But let’s not read into this a unified position on other matters. The Journal opposes the FMA and Hatch supports it. I’ve never suggested that there is something in principle wrong or illegitimate with amending the Constitution to include a policy on marriage.

What I have said is this: 1) The Hatch language is crafted narrowly to meet the danger that social conservatives correctly claim to exist and that inspired the calls to amend the Constitution in the first place–the danger, that is, that judges will impose same-sex marriage on the country. Going beyond a ban on judges imposing same-sex marriage is, whether wise or unwise, unnecessary. 2) There are reasons to think that the Hatch language would be easier to enact than the FMA. 3) The possibility of amending the Constitution in a Hatch-like way suggests that the common conservative talking point that it is inevitable that we will have a national definition of marriage–either judge-imposed same-sex marriage or the FMA–is wrong. That’s the point that I made yesterday, objecting to the making of this point by you and by others.

You ask if I would object to a constitutional amendment banning abortion. I would not. (Indeed, I believe that existing constitutional language already points in this direction, but I’m going to leave that aside for this post.) But I would also be delighted if a constitutional amendment giving responsibility for the issue to state legislatures rather than the courts were to pass. Such an amendment would probably also be easier to pass than an amendment that banned abortion. (Which is not to say it would be easy to pass.) So under most circumstances I would suggest that pro-lifers would be wiser to take up the state-legislature amendment than to take up an abortion-ban amendment.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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