Senator Marco Rubio outlined his plan to reverse the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage and wipe out protections for transgender people if he is elected to the White House next year.
"It is the current law. I don't believe any case law is settled law," the 2016 presidential hopeful said of the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide in an interview on NBC News's Meet the Press on Sunday. "Any future Supreme Court can change it."
It's not so much an issue of restricting liberty, but one of states' right to their own legislative determination, the Florida senator told host Chuck Todd.
"I don't think the current Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage," Rubio said. "What is wrong is that the Supreme Court has found this hidden constitutional right that 200 years of jurisprudence had not discovered and basically overturned the will of the voters in Florida, where over 60 percent passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in the state constitution as the union of one man and one woman."
In an earlier interview with Christian Broadcasting Network Wednesday, Rubio also promised to overturn President Barack Obama's executive actions to protect the LGBT community, including "on things like gender equality in restrooms," referring to an order Obama signed in July which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. The order could potentially force federal contractors to allow transgender people to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.
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The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states on June 26. Since then, a backlash from conservative politicians and local officials has surfaced in a number of states like Kentucky, where local clerk Kim Davis was briefly jailed for defying the Supreme Court's ruling by refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Many Republican politicians rallied around the clerk, who has became a controversial figurehead of the anti-gay marriage movement.
Presidential candidates competing in the 2016 race have also been at the forefront of calling for a rollback of the Supreme Court decision. Among them, Texas Senator and former lawyer Ted Cruz described the ruling as "naked and shameless judicial activism" that has "undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court." Cruz also simultaneously announced a plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that would subject "lawless" Supreme Court justices to intermittent re-election.
Other candidates, including Wisconsin Governor Scott walker, who has since dropped out of the race, supported a constitutional amendment that would allow individual states to decide if they would recognize gay marriages.
On Sunday, Rubio noted that making a constitutional amendment would be "conceding that the current Constitution is somehow wrong and needs to be fixed." Instead, he threatened to render the decision on gay marriage ineffectual by using his presidential powers to appoint only conservative justices to the bench who would supposedly interpret the ruling differently.
"Ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed," Rubio said Sunday.
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Although appointment to the Supreme Court bench is a lifetime appointment, over the next presidential term, three vacancies may arise if the justices on the bench who will be older than 80 by the inauguration choose to retire. The future leader's nominations to possibly replace Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has the potential to significantly skew the balance of the court on a range of issues — such as abortion and voting rights — that could be bumped up from the lower courts and passed to the high court for consideration.
Rubio is currently polling at around 12 percent over an average of Republican primary surveys taken over the last two weeks, behind frontrunner Donald Trump (34 percent) and Cruz (13 percent).
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