By Scott Tibbs, October 24, 2009
Last week, a Louisiana "justice of the peace" named Keith Bardwell sparked national outrage when he refused to grant a marriage license to an interracial couple based on the belief that mixed-race children are not accepted by either whites or blacks. Apparently Bardwell missed the election of Barack Obama, the nation's first biracial President, last November. That Obama is half white didn't prevent 95% of black voters from supporting him last year.
Let me be blunt here. Bardwell ought to be in prison, as should all government officials that violate the constitutional rights of those under their authority. As I have said many times in the past, a government that ignores the rule of law is far more dangerous to our liberty than any terrorist or foreign aggressor. We need to have criminal penalties for government officials that violate constitutional rights, because simply removing someone from office is not enough of a deterrent for those who commit treason against the Constitution. If we were truly a free country, Bardwell would be sitting in prison with Mike Nifong.
If Bardwell want to hold those abominable racist views privately or express them in public, he certainly has the Constitutional right to do so and I will enthusiastically defend his right to free speech. What Bardwell must never be allowed to do and should face criminal charges for is illegally abusing his authority to deny equality under the law, as mandated by the 14th Amendment.
Are there people who would discriminate against mixed-race children? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is "yes." That is one of the things mixed-race couples deal with on a daily basis. But it is none of Bardwell's business to make that decision for the couple he discriminated against. He does not have the legal or moral authority to decide on behalf of any couple whether they can get married based on the bigotry that exists in society. If some people have a problem with mixed-race children, they are the ones who are morally deficient, not the parents of that child.