John Leo
The hullaballoo over Sen. Rick Santorum is another one of those flaps that deeply upset people in newsrooms and faculty lounges, but that don't seem very controversial out in the real world.

Santorum, it seems to me, made three strong points in his April 7 interview with The Associated Press:

(1) The Supreme Court has created a right to privacy found nowhere in the Constitution.

(2) The senator believes in the traditional male-female version of marriage and thinks homosexual acts, adultery and bigamy are "antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family."

(3) The Supreme Court is preparing to rule on a Texas law that forbids gay sexual acts. If the court says there is a constitutional right to consensual sex, Santorum says, "then you would have the right" to bigamy, polygamy, adultery and incest.

All three points are obvious. I would say they are blindingly obvious. First, it's a fact that the text of the Constitution says nothing about privacy. Point Two is an orthodox Roman Catholic position, and since Santorum is an orthodox Roman Catholic, nobody should be surprised that he believes this. Point Three is nearly as orthodox in current legal thinking as Point Two is at the Vatican. The Supreme Court will very likely strike down the Texas law (why else take the case?). If it does, no matter what principle it relies on -- privacy, consent, equal protection -- that principle will inevitably be legally applied to many other sexual acts and arrangements. Lots of gay activists believe this too. Why Santorum can't say it is a mystery.

The court ruling in the Texas case will probably be a patch job designed to protect the sexual privacy of gays without opening other doors, at least not right away. The patch job will prevent the country from erupting now, but given what our legal culture is today, a great many sexual laws will face big trouble.

Here is Clayton Cramer, a historian and an Internet blogger: "Sen. Santorum is right. Once the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' sodomy law (as I expect that they will), there will be no defending laws against polygamy, bigamy, incest (at least if both parties are adults) or adultery. All will fall before the legal academy's fierce contempt for the religious beliefs of 90 percent of the population."

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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