A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.
Ah. It’s for…the children.
Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.
In their piece, the AP said Bardwell never returned any of their phone calls. But they note that he recently talked to the Daily Star of Hammond, La.:
Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.
“I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves,” Bardwell said. “In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer.”
And this has what to do with the law?
That’s right, the law. Since Loving v. Virginia, an act like the one perpetrated by Mr. Bardwell is illegal. Period. End of story. This isn’t something new; Chief Justice Earl Warren made the definitive legal statement on this 42 years ago in his opinion in Loving:
The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.
With Loving, the Supreme Court threw out every remaining state laws still in existence that made interracial marriage illegal. That’s what makes Bardwell’s actions so egregious; the Supreme Court in Loving overturned prior court opinions that were based on a statute, while there was no such statute Bardwell could draw from. The AP article points out the requirements to apply for a marriage license; needless to say, interracial marriages aren’t treated any differently than intra-racial marriages. If what Bardwell did isn’t judicial activism, even for a justice of the peace, I don’t know what is.
Two things about this that don’t show up in the article are very interesting. First, there’s no mention as to whether Bardwell is white, black, or something else. I mention it because it’s bound to be brought up. It’s also immaterial since this would be racism regardless of Bardwell’s skin color. Second, the AP plays “guess the party” by not mentioning which party Bardwell is affiliated with. It turns out he’s a Republican. But based on this information from the website of the Louisiana Secretary of State, Bardwell, a justice of the peace since 1990, was a Democrat up until this year. It sure seems, based on what the AP says Bardwell told the local newspaper, that Bardwell has been doing this long before he became a Republican.
Also mentioned by the AP, the ACLU is looking to get the Louisiana Supreme Court, who has jurisdiction over Louisiana’s justices of the peace, to remove Bardwell from office. This is one time when I’m in agreement with them.