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July 01, 2013

How Reagan Made Gay Marriage Possible

Jeffrey Toobin: "The Supreme Court's embrace of gay rights last week had an almost serene majesty. The obvious correctness of the Court's judgment, its curt dismissal of a monstrous injustice, had a grandeur that requires little elaboration. Yet the decision had its roots in something prosaic and largely forgotten: the midterm elections of 1986. Until that point in Ronald Reagan's Presidency, the loyal opposition was more loyal than opposed to the genial Californian in the White House, but Democrats came roaring back, winning control of the Senate with eight new seats."

"It took Reagan and his aides some time to recognize the realignment on Capitol Hill. After the resignation of Lewis F. Powell, Jr., from the Court, in 1987, Reagan nominated Robert Bork. He would have been an ideological twin to Antonin Scalia, who had been confirmed with ease the previous year. But the Democrats in the Senate, especially the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Joseph Biden, picked a fight over Bork and defeated his nomination by fifty-eight to forty-two. In response, Howard Baker, the former senator turned White House chief of staff, urged Reagan to acknowledge the new political realities and make a more moderate choice. Reagan did; he selected Anthony M. Kennedy."


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