Sen. Mike Braun said during a media call Tuesday that the US Supreme Court was wrong to legalize interracial marriage decades ago.
That decision should have been left to individual states, he said.
Five hours later, Braun released a statement saying he misunderstood “a line of questioning,” and emphasized that he condemns racism “in any form.”
During the press call earlier Tuesday, Braun was asked about the landmark Loving v. Virginia court case after he explained he thought abortion rights questions should have been left up to the states back when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Mandating abortion access was judicial activism, Braun said, adding that individual states should instead be able to decide how restrictive abortion access should be.
A reporter then asked if he applied the same reasoning to the Supreme Court’s decision in 1967 that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage under the 14th amendment, which guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law.
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“When it comes to issues, you can’t have it both ways,” Braun said. “When you want that diversity to shine within our federal system, there are going to be rules and proceedings, they’re going to be out of sync with maybe what other states would do. It’s the beauty of the system, and that’s where the differences among points of view in our 50 states ought to express themselves.”
Braun doubled down when asked to clarify if he would be OK with leaving the decision of whether to allow interracial marriage up to states. After all, states had decided to make interracial marriage illegal.
“Yes, I think that that’s something that 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,” Braun responded. “I think that’s hypocritical.”
Hours later Braun backtracked in a written statement send to media.
“Earlier during a virtual press conference I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage,” Braun said. “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.”
According to Pew Research, 11% of all married adults in the US had a spouse who was a different race or ethnicity from them in 2019. The rate is higher among newlyweds.
Mike Schmuhl, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, slammed Braun for his remarks earlier in the day.
“Mike Braun’s words and views are not only un-American, but beneath any respectable person wishing to hold public office,” Schmuhl said. “The United States Supreme Court has affirmed many times that marriage equality in our country extends to any committed couple regardless of sex, race, orientation, or religious affiliation, and to question that legitimacy questions the very fabric of America and its people.”
Braun often advocates for individual state’s rights. For example, he was opposed to President Biden’s vaccine mandates for private businesses.
The Supreme Court is poised to rule on a controversial Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks in the coming months. That decision could threaten key components of the longstanding Roe v. Wade decision.
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Indiana lawmakers have asked Gov. Eric Holcomb to call a taxpayer-funded special legislative session if parts of Roe v. Wade are overturned by the US Supreme Court.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.