GOP Senator Claims He ‘Misunderstood’ After Saying Supreme Court Should Leave ‘Interracial Marriage Up to the States’

Mike Braun’s apparent defense of segregation came while arguing that states should be allowed to outlaw contraception

Senator Mike Braun
Senator Mike Braun, R-IN, during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies hearing June 23, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

After stating on Tuesday that the Supreme Court was wrong to legalize interracial marriage in 1967, Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, now says he “misunderstood” the question asked by a reporter.

The subject came up during a conference call about about President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, who is in her second day of confirmation hearings. Braun said he is in favor of striking down Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, and also Loving v. Virginia, which made interracial marriage legal nationwide. The landmark 1967 case was made into the 2016 film starring Ruth Negga, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and Joel Edgerton.

When asked about Roe, which has received numerous challenges in states including Texas, Braun replied. “The  issue should have never been federalized, [it was] way out of sync, I think, with the contour of America then. One side of the aisle wants to homogenize [issues] federally, [and that] is not the right way to do it.” He argued for states to decide these issues “through their own legislation, through their own court systems.”

When the same reporter asked, “You would be okay with leaving the matter of interracial marriage to the states,” Braun firmly responded, “Yes. I think that if you’re not wanting the Supreme Court to weigh in on issues like that, you’re not going to be able to have your cake and eat it too. I think that’s hypocritical.”

After his statements were denounced not just as racist but as “open white supremacy,” Braun told the Washington Post that he “misunderstood” the reporter’s questions about Loving.

“I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage,” Braun said. “Let me be clear on that issue — there is no question the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind based on race, that is not something that is even up for debate,  and I condemn racism in any form, at all levels and by any states, entities, or individuals.”

In the conference call, Braun was also asked if he opposed  Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that a state’s ban on contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy. The senator once again stated his preference for individual states’ rights: “We’re better off having states manifest their points of view rather than homogenizing it across the country, as Roe v. Wade did.”

These precedent-setting cases, and the 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, have all come up during Judge Jackson’s hearing, with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) saying she considers Griswold to be “constitutionally unsound.”

Braun’s remarks were first reported by lndiana outlets and WFYI Indianapolis.