Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on Obama, gay marriage, and North Carolina There were fierce attempts to explain the harmful effects and unintended consequences of Amendment 1, North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions, but Tuesday night voters overwhelmingly approved the measure. Obama opposed it, but Davidson wonders why the White House spent its week emphasizing the president's "evolving" position on marriage. She takes issue with the assumption that he can stand by and allow public opinion to keep moving on its own. "There are families whose lives will now get worse. They, and we, have arrived at a moment when politicians—including the President—need to say what they believe, what risks they are willing to take, and what, in the end, is worth fighting for."
Jonathan Chait in New York on Dick Lugar's defeat Sen. Dick Lugar lost the Republican primary to Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock, in part because GOP voters didn't like his occasional breaks from his party. "It's possible that nothing important will come of the Lugar-Mourdock primary. But it is just as easy to see in it the frightening outlines of a future systemic crisis," writes Chait. Indiana's voters were perfectly within their right to elect someone they felt would adhere to party orthodoxy. But Chait focuses on Lugar's tradition-minding votes in favor of Obama's court nominees, contrasting it with Republican blocking of several other Obama appointees. "[I]f Republican senators attribute Lugar's defeat even in part to those votes for Kagan and Sotomayor ... will it become commonplace for the Court to have several vacancies owing to gridlock, for the whole legitimacy of the institution to collapse?