Sparks flew last night after television host Bill O’Reilly argued that the U.S. Supreme Court has morphed into a political organization and that it is no longer in line with the Founders’ intent. At the center of his angst were health care and gay marriage — two issues on which the justices have issued highly-contentious opinions.
“The gay marriage issue should be decided by each state,” O’Reilly said, noting that he believes that the high court has been looking to support its members’ political opinions by “manipulating the law.”
Liberal commentator Juan Williams, though, disagreed with some of O’Reilly’s sentiment, noting that the Supreme Court sided with the constitution in making its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ruling.
But it was the Prop 8 decision that had O’Reilly most frustrated, as he argued that the justices were impeding the rule of the people in California who had voted to uphold traditional marriage.
“When it comes to the gay marriage issue, there’s a constitutional principle here,” Williams said. “The 14th amendment that says we all as Americans have equal rights.”
Mary Katharine Ham, a conservative, echoed that the DOMA ruling was rooted in federalism.
The scenario turned heated, though, when O’Reilly and Williams clashed over the justices’ intent. While the liberal commentator agreed with O’Reilly on the health care front, he felt that gay marriage was appropriately handled by the court.
The conversation became even more contentious when O’Reilly used the “slippery slope” argument (read our coverage of the concerns of gay marriage opponents and learn more about the slippery slope debate). When the host noted that changing the marriage formula could open the door to plural marriage and other arrangements, Williams became visibly agitated, at one point rolling his eyes.
“Once you open the door, then anything comes under the tent,” O’Reilly said.
As Mediaite notes, the idea that the Supreme Court defended a state’s right to make their own marriage laws by tossing out a key provision in DOMA, yet didn’t uphold Prop 8 (which was an example of a state attempting to make such laws) led O’Reilly to dub the court’s reasoning “B.S.!”
Watch the clash, below:
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