The Republican nominee for attorney general in Wisconsin, Brad Schimel, who is also the Waukesha County District Attorney, has been aghast that his Democratic opponent Susan Happ said she would not have defended the state’s ban on gay marriage.
Schimel says he would have gone a step further than defending the state’s ban on gay marriage. During an interview with Eye On Oshkosh, Schimel said he would have defended the state’s ban on interracial marriage if he was in charge at the time.
As he discussed his stance on that issue last month on an Oshkosh cable access program, he was asked if it would have been his obligation to defend a ban on interracial marriage if he had been an attorney general in a state with such a law 60 years ago.
He sighed and said, “Yeah, it is.”
“It might be distasteful to me …but I’ve got to stay consistent with that — as the state’s lawyer, it’s not my job to pick and choose.”
It might be distasteful … BUT I totally would have opposed the right of people to marry someone with a different skin color.
It’s not the obligation of the attorney general to defend laws that are unconstitutional or that violate civil rights. If an attorney general is unwilling or unable to act independently, the position itself is compromised.
Fortunately Schimel’s opponent has made this point.
“I am sworn to enforce the law, but also to uphold the constitution,” Happ said in her statement. “There is a place for independent judgment by the attorney general. Apparently, Brad Schimel disagrees.“
Whether or not you would defend a ban on interracial marriage is a pretty easy, no-brainer question. Unless you’re a Republican. Then it becomes complicated.