CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — In front of an energetic coffee shop crowd, Gov. Rick Perry was taken off guard by a question on a famous 2003 Supreme Court case striking down anti-sodomy laws.
After delivering brief remarks that drew several enthusiastic responses from the audience, Perry was asked to reconcile his views on limited government with Lawrence v. Texas.
As he began to explain his views against government overspending, Perry admitted that he did not know which case the questioner was referring to. "I wish I could tell you I know every Supreme Court case — I don't," he said. "I'm not a lawyer."
The seminal civil rights decision overturned a Texas law that outlawed the practice of sodomy between homosexuals. Perry said government spending, not a specific Supreme Court case, was the issue with federal government.
"If we don't go in and cut the size of government, court court cases aren't going to make a tinker's heck," he said, adding, "The problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C. — it's not some Supreme Court case." Perry then elaborated on his views on the Supreme Court, which he said needed more strict constructionists of the Constitution.
Despite his failure to remember it today, Perry mentioned the case in his anti-Washington book, Fed Up! In the book's sixth chapter, called “Nine Unelected Judges Tell Us How to Live,” he writes:
Since I have been governor, a significant number of cases involving Texas or Texans have gone to the U.S. Supreme Court. From posting the Ten Commandments in the public square to our right to execute a murdering rapist who happens to be a foreign national, we have had to kiss the ring of the Court and have done so, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Texans have long been involved in significant decisions before the Court, and often we have been told we can’t do something. To name a few: Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion), Plyler v. Doe (requiring the education of children who are illegal immigrants), Lawrence v. Texas (outlawing anti-sodomy laws), Santa Fe Independent School District (prohibiting student-led prayer at football games), League of Latin American Citizens v. Perry (ordering the reconfiguration of a congressional district), and numerous others. It seems Texans have a different view of the world than do the nine oligarchs in robes.