Ben Carson hints: As president, I wouldn't enforce a Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage

Via TPM, I did not foresee “let’s revisit Marbury v. Madison” emerging as a minor theme of the primary. But between Carson and Huckabee it’s already a hot race to see who can pander the hardest to social cons over the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Huck ante’d up recently with this comment:

In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. makes the case there comes a time when people of conscience have a moral obligation to practice civil disobedience against “unjust laws.” Do you agree with that? For example, is there anything a court could try and impose upon you as a president that you morally would refuse to comply with?

Dr. King’s letter quoted extensively St. Augustine, who developed the doctrine of just and unjust laws. And the necessity to not abide by unjust laws, which as Augustine and King both concurred, “Are not laws at all.” Court decisions that defy the Constitution, or the laws of nature or nature’s God, do not constitute a legal or moral obligation to comply. In addition, the Constitution doesn’t recognize a court—any court, including the Supreme Court—as having absolute power to make a law. In fact, the false doctrine of “judicial supremacy” is in itself unconstitutional, and defies the balance and separation of powers clearly outlined in our law. Unless the people’s representatives pass enabling legislation and a president signs and agrees to enforce it, there IS no law.

Not true, and it’s politically silly for him to take that tack knowing that he may eventually face a national electorate that now supports gay marriage on balance. Even worse, the prospect of another governor from Arkansas creating a constitutional crisis by refusing to enforce a constitutional ruling of the Supreme Court has earned him comparisons to Orval Faubus even among righties, including George Will just last night on Fox News. The Federal Marriage Amendment was never going to happen but at least it’s a procedurally orthodox response to SSM being legalized. Huckabee trying to reinvent the wheel about presidential duties following a Fourteenth Amendment ruling is … not orthodox.

But Carson’s competing for the same voters and can’t be outdone, so here you go.

“First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works. The president is required to carry out the laws of the land, the laws of the land come from the legislative branch,” Carson said on Tuesday. “So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law. And that’s something we need to talk about.

That’s why I said “hints” in the headline instead of “vows” — even an amateur pol like Carson won’t explicitly commit to refusing to enforce a Supreme Court decision, although that’s clearly what he’s implying. Makes me wonder how he and Huck would approach Supreme Court rulings on subjects more mundane than whether gay marriage should be legal coast to coast. If Court rulings are really just advisory opinions about how the president should behave, then we were all way, waaaaay too invested in that ObamaCare mandate decision a few years ago. Obama already feels free to ignore Congress when it suits him. Let’s encourage him to ignore SCOTUS rulings that he doesn’t like either, I guess.

Not surprisingly, the other formidable social con in the race has a much stronger legal background than Huckabee or Carson and is tailoring his solutions to gay marriage accordingly, with a procedurally sound (albeit still doomed to fail) attempt to amend the Constitution.