April 28, 2003

ON SANTORUM

ON SANTORUM: If you've been reading Andrew Sullivan, NRO, The Volokh Conspiracy, and perhaps Virginia Postrel, you've seen most of the points I might have made if blogging had been the only thing on my agenda last week. Still, I'm left with some thoughts to unload:

Does Santorum really favor sodomy laws? For homosexuals only, or for everyone? Sullivan seems to have based his inference on the clause in Santorum's AP interview where he said: "If New York doesn't want sodomy laws, if the people of New York want abortion, fine. I mean, I wouldn't agree with it, but that's their right..." (See "Criminalizing Adultery?" here.) But this is ambiguous; it can be read to mean Santorum would only disagree with legal abortion (remember, he was speaking, not writing).

Even if it is fair-- and it probably is-- to assume that Santorum is friendly toward outlawing sin, does this matter? Neither his words nor his record indicate that Santorum is much more radical than anyone knew; he's politically unfriendly to homosexuals, but that was not a secret. If Andrew is correct that Santorum "let slip" that he favors sodomy laws as quoted above, then he revealed his support for these laws in the context of federalist principles-- states should be constitutionally permitted to regulate sexual behavior or not as they see fit. I don't think, given his legislative record on abortion and gay marriage, that Santorum is really a hard-and-fast federalist, but we can presume that he's not interested in a federal anti-sodomy law; he's never proposed or even spoken of such a thing. (If he does support state sodomy laws, we who disagree with him can be thankful that he's a U.S. Senator and not a state legislator, can't we?)

Jim Pinkerton had a good point when he wondered if Santorum was a Democratic Party mole; this was a bad time to drive a fissure in the Republican coalition. This raises questions about the durability of this coalition-- but we'll get to that another day.

Posted by John Tabin at April 28, 2003 10:05 PM
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