YouGov poll: Pluralities of whites, blacks, Latinos think SCOTUS should not declare a constitutional right to gay marriage

All three of these groups should be boycotted immediately and mercilessly, needless to say.

Quite a week for unity in America. First the two parties come together in opposition to the Confederate flag, now the races come together in opposition to constitutionalizing SSM. Maybe this is the key to healing the nation, finding things that everyone dislikes. Like the new “True Detective,” or that hot-dog pizza abortion from Pizza Hut.


The opposition is mild, obviously, but it’s there. Interestingly, when you remove the Court from the equation, those numbers tilt the other way. Here’s what happens when you ask people if they support letting gays marry legally:


Overall it’s 49/41 in favor, with whites and Latinos both supportive on balance and blacks very narrowly split in favor of H8. Refine the question to ask whether gay couples specifically have a constitutional right to marry (as opposed to whether they should have a “legal” right) and you get this:


There’s still a plurality in favor and whites still support the idea on balance, but blacks and Latinos have now flipped in opposite directions. Blacks support a constitutional right to marry, 46/40, even they oppose the legal right generally while Latinos oppose it narrowly, 42/44, even though they support legal gay marriage in principle. I can understand the Latino position — it’s one thing to acknowledge a right by statute, it’s another to place it beyond Congress’s reach by reading it into the Constitution — but the numbers among blacks are harder to figure. Maybe they see the baseline question about whether SSM should be legalized as more of a moral one while the constitutional question is more of a legal one. Or maybe framing the matter as a constitutional issue holds special appeal given the Warren Court’s civil-rights legacy. Go figure that blacks might feel warmly about constitutional arguments after rulings like Brown vs. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia.

In that case, though, why should blacks, white, and Latinos all flip towards opposition when you refine the question further to ask whether the Supreme Court should rule that gays have a constitutional right to marry? The answer, I think, lies in another part of YouGov’s question, where they stress that if the Court rules that way, “same-sex marriages will be allowed in states whose laws currently forbid them.” There are doubtless people in all three groups who didn’t realize until that question was put to them that that’s what a SCOTUS ruling on this subject would mean on the ground. Each state’s ability to set its own law on marriage will go out the window; it’ll be one uniform rule for the entire country by judicial decree. Turns out Americans aren’t crazy about that, which may signal a backlash brewing if the Court rules as everyone expects this week. But then, never underestimate the media’s ability to shape opinion. The coverage of a ruling that constitutionalizes SSM will be greeted with undisguised euphoria. That ought to tamp down some of the complaints afterward. (And if it doesn’t, boycott threats against the complainers will.)

One other fascinating bit from the poll. YouGov asked people whether they agreed with the idea that the Supreme Court should feel free to throw out any law it wants on grounds that it’s unconstitutional. I … did not expect this result:


Why, when I was a lad, it was conservatives who pounded the table about unelected judges imposing their will on democratic majorities and liberals who swooned at the thought of Justice Brennan coming down from the mountaintop with the word of the “living Constitution” in hand. Nowadays it’s righties who give thumbs up to the Court flushing federal statutes and liberals who grouse about it. When in doubt, rely on partisanship to explain everything: The Court does, after all, feature five conservative appointees and, for most Republicans and Democrats, “the law” is probably a synonym for “Obama.” Go figure that righties like the idea of SCOTUS dumping Obama’s agenda while lefties don’t. Even so, we’re mere days away from the Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage is legal everywhere, including in red states, no matter what the local legislature thinks about it. Mike Huckabee has spoken openly about ignoring certain Court rulings because of it. You would think that the prospect of a momentous loss on gay marriage would give Republicans greater pause here about judicial review. Nope.