Denial on Display

Conservatives have gotten a lot of what they want from the Supreme Court; they need to deal with the rest.

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Supporters embrace outside the Supreme Court Wednesday after it struck down DOMA and cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
Supporters embrace outside the Supreme Court Wednesday after it struck down DOMA and cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

No means no. That's a message normally meant to deter and define rape. But it seems to fall on deaf ears when it comes to people who are unhappy with the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court's decisions throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act and California's ban on gay marriage predictably did not go over well with people who don't think homosexuals should be able to marry. But they didn't stop there. They kept trying to stop gay marriages in California, claiming they had one more appeals process (and they did, but it was an incredibly tenuous and far-fetched one), even after the court gave the final word.

This is a tactic that might make sense is a scenario with irreversible consequences, such as an execution. But delaying for another 25 days the weddings of same-sex couples in California? It's just denial in its most clinically extreme form.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Will Obama's Support of Gay Marriage Help Him Politically?]

The high court also ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, a huge disappointment to conservatives who hate the law and presumed the conservative court would agree. And yet, lawmakers are still trying to undo it, with the House voting an absurd 30-plus times to repeal the law, knowing the Senate would never concur and President Obama would never sign it. Candidates still talk about stopping the law, even though part of it – not incidentally, the most popular parts – are already in place.

The Obama administration has delayed one of the less popular elements, the one which requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers or pay a penalty. Critics said the administration was merely trying to spare Democrats a headache during critical congressional elections next year, and that is a reasonable presumption. It is also reasonable to accept the administration's explanation that businesses needed more time to adjust to the new law. The economy is recovering, and such changes – however useful they may end up being in the long run – can be disruptive to a business just coming out of fiscal trouble.

[See a collection of political cartoons on gay marriage.]

But it doesn't mean the change is never going to happen, and it's fantasy for opponents of the law to think so. Regulations and mandates are delayed with some frequency; witness the number of states which have gotten waivers from No Child Left Behind.

What's troubling about the state of denial is not just how much it exposes our no-compromise mentality, but how it reveals the lack of respect for the Supreme Court. The whole point of the high court – whether one agrees with its rulings or not – is to be the final arbiter of the law. Once people stop accepting the court's authority, our whole system of checks and balances falls apart. Conservatives have gotten most of what they have want out of the current court. They need to accept the whole package.

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