Lincoln v. Obergefell: A Reply

David Blankenhorn, The American Interest, 11/13/2015

Dear friends:

The issues we've joined are important. In your recent public statement and "Call to Action", you declare that the recent Supreme Court decision holding that gay couples have the right to marry is "not the law of the land" and should not be treated as such by U.S. elected officials. You repeatedly cite the views of Abraham Lincoln to justify this assertion.

My recent essay in The American Interest, "What Would Lincoln Do?", challenges your argument and particularly seeks to make the case that it's usually a bad idea to try to recruit Lincoln for contemporary partisan political duty. Several of you have thoughtfully responded, including Matthew Franck in National Review (David Blankenhorn's Lincoln: Bent, Folded, Mutilated") and Hadley Arkes in The Public Discourse ("Recovering Lincoln's Teaching on the Limits of the Courts – and Giving the News to David Blankenhorn"). I've also benefitted from lively exchanges on the topic with my friend Robert George on Facebook and from reading his earlier First Things essay, "Lincoln on Judicial Despotism." I'm grateful for these replies and exchanges.

From my perspective, here's the nub of our disagreement: I believe that you are urging upon Americans an extremist idea in the name of a revered American who was the opposite of an extremist. By way of keeping our conversation going, let me try to explain – with respect – what I mean.

Subjects: By IAV Leaders and Staff, Polarization

More by: David Blankenhorn


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