U.S. Rep. Phil Roe.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe says he was “disappointed” in the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act, but acknowledged “it is the law of the land.”
A 5-4 vote by the justices determined DOMA violated the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment emphasizing liberty protected by due process of law.
But, Roe noted, the ruling does not impact Tennessee’s voter-approved 2006 Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“They really kicked it back to the states,” Roe, R-Tenn., said of the justices’ ruling in a conference call with reporters. “That should please some of these 10th Amendment (states’ rights) folks who believe more things ought to be done at the state level.”
Now that the DOMA matter has been decided, Roe said House Republicans are expected to turn their attention to immigration reform.
The U.S. Senate recently passed an immigration bill — with an amendment filed by Tennessee GOP U.S. Sen. Bob Corker — requiring an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents and at least 700 miles of fencing along the southern border.
The legislation, which is expected to be considered by the House, also includes spending $4.5 billion on surveillance technology, an electronic visa entry/exit system, and a mandated E-Verify system for all employers.
Republican Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s senior U.S. Senator, voted for the bill and noted it would create a process of permanent legal residency for newly registered adult immigrants.
“Under our constitutional system of government, it is now time for the Republican U.S. House of Representatives to improve upon the Senate’s progress on this issue and finish the job,” Alexander said in a prepared release.
Roe, however, doesn’t think the Senate immigration bill has a chance of passing in the House.
“The way the people in our district see this, and I see this uniformly, people believe we should be fair in our immigration but fairness means you don’t come to the country illegally, that we secure our borders,” Roe said. “The question is how you verify that...I have a hard time supporting a pathway to citizenship to people who deliberately broke our laws...I think there will be a debate about what is border security. Without border security, the rest of it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. If you still have a porous border, whatever we do doesn’t work.”
Another issue getting House scrutiny, Roe said, is what to do about admitted intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
Roe said in a previous conference call that he didn’t think Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who was last reported to be hiding in Moscow, was a traitor.
“I still don’t think we know,” Roe said of Snowden’s actions. “I don’t know whether this guy has given out information, disinformation or what he has...I truly don’t know. The jury is out...I don’t know whether this is a political stunt or he has real information...It’s hard to believe a guy working as a contractor for 90 days would have access to all this secret information and have no more oversight that he had. If that’s the kind of intelligence agency we have, I’d say that’s an unintelligent agency.”
Roe also has been critical of the federal government’s anti-coal climate change agenda pushed by President Barack Obama.
“I think the reason the president was giving a speech on energy was he was tired of hearing about the IRS (and why the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups), Benghazi (the probe into why a U.S. diplomat was killed in Libya), the AP story (involving a U.S. Justice Department seizure of Associated Press phone records) and NSA,” Roe said.
Roe will hold a Town Hall meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.
For more about Roe go to www.roe.house.gov.