You have to be pretty obtuse to think Cornyn endorsed segregation in tweet on Roe v. Wade

·2 min read

Sen. John Cornyn is no stranger to controversies. But over the weekend, he got pulled into a pretty dumb one.

This happened, of course, on Twitter, the wellspring of missing the point and ascribing bad faith to those you disagree with.

The Texas Republican responded to former President Barack Obama, who lamented that the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent in its earth-shaking ruling Friday. Cornyn wrote: “Now do Plessy vs Ferguson/Brown vs Board of Education.”

His point, of course, was that some court rulings are wrong, egregiously so, and don’t deserve deference, even if they have stood for decades.

There may be no better example than the decision he cited. Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, blessed “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws that brutalized Black Americans for decades. Brown, in 1954, was the landmark ruling requiring school desegregation, a key victory that helped set the table for the civil-rights movement.

This being Twitter, the reactions to Cornyn were generally obtuse, unfair or both. Critics accused him of pining for the days of segregation and even revealing the secret Republican plan to roll back decades of progress.

After conservatives rallied to the senator’s defense, Cornyn clarified his comment, adding: “Thank goodness some [Supreme Court] precedents are overruled.”

Cornyn, speaking to Texas newspaper editorial boards Tuesday on a conference call, referred to the matter dryly: “I know I got a little bit of attention, maybe more than I planned for.”

The comment came in response to a question about whether Justice Brett Kavanaugh, when he met with senators considering his nomination, essentially promised not to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. As Cornyn said, that would have been inappropriate.

Cornyn also touted the gun-violence legislation he helped shepherd through the Senate. Cornyn was among 15 Republicans to support the bill, a modest but worthy response to the school shooting last month in Uvalde. He hailed its significant investments in community-based mental health care and school security, along with expanded background checks for those ages 18-21 seeking to buy guns.

Asked if there had been support for barring those younger than 21 from buying rifles and shotguns entirely — they currently cannot purchase handguns — Cornyn said there weren’t enough Republican votes for such a provision to overcome the filibuster, even if all 50 Democrats were on board.

On the rest of the bill, he said: “We found a way to get to yes.”

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