Shields and Brooks Split With Progressives, Urge Caution on Same-Sex Marriage During PBS NewsHour

The PBS NewsHour went into everyone’s favorite subjects last Friday, gays and guns, and discussed the overwhelming cultural shift concerning gay marriage. New York Times columnist David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields both commented on how this shift could be irreversible, but noted that the Supreme Court could “Roe v. Wade” the decision. That is, the faux conservative and the liberal pundit both agreed that a court decision could just breath new life and fresh controversy into the same-sex marriage fight.

Yes, this is NOT an April Fools' joke. Brooks and Shields were actually saying that sweeping decisions, if not taken responsibly, could create more problems in the long run.  It's a refreshing moment hearing shields, unlike others among his liberal colleagues, acknowledging how social change is best achieved through the political process rather than the courts. It is, however, a shame that Brooks failed to give a conservative constitutional case for why DOMA and Prop 8 should stand, aside from the deleterious effects of a court ruling:

JUDY WOODRUFF, anchor: But, David -- I didn't mean to interrupt, but you do hear this argument out there that if the court were to legalize gay marriage across the country, that there could be a backlash.

DAVID BROOKS: I think that's a fear, that it becomes Roe v. Wade-like.And I guess I have thought about that a lot over the last week, and I think it -- probably not likely to happen. I think it's probably the momentum is such that if the court did move aggressively, maybe there would be some pushback, but I think it's not like the abortion issue and we shouldn't draw that parallel.

I think it's really pretty much cemented. The one thing I will say about the court, of it -- is, though, to the extent that we can understand what they're thinking on the basis of oral argument, I really got a sense reading about it was the really hesitancy on the part of most members of the court to interfere with the flow of public opinion, a real sense that public opinion is shifting so much, they don't know how to insert themselves into it, and, given their druthers, a lot of them, at least, several of them at least, would just like to stay out and are looking for an avenue to stay out, and not interfere with the flow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see that?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I -- Judy, I think that it is irrefutable that Roe v. Wade remains, 40 years after the decision, an open wound in the body politic of the United States. It is unresolved.

The questions may be unresolvable. They aren't the same as same-sex marriage. But I think it's an admonition and a warning to our political system and our judicial system that it is -- we're far better off when we work our political will through the legislative process, through the political process.

We were on our way in the early 70s to reaching state laws. We're changing on abortion. And as Justice Ginsburg herself pointed out, you know, with one fell swoop, that single decision of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, they repealed all the abortion laws in the country. They made it illegal. And ...

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Justice Ginsburg ...

MARK SHIELDS: Justice Ginsburg.

JUDY WOODRUFF: ... was talking about this, not -- so a liberal justice saying ...

MARK SHIELDS: A liberal justice, that's right.

JUDY WOODRUFF: ... the court may have moved too quickly.

MARK SHIELDS: May have moved -- I think it did. And it remains unresolved.