Huckabee on the "law of the land": The Dred Scott decision is still the law of the land, you know

Via BuzzFeed, here’s an unusually stark example of the recurring question whenever Huckabee starts riffing on constitutional law. Is he lying deliberately to deceive his base or does he really not know better? It’s hard to believe a college grad who governed a state for 10 years could sincerely believe that Dred Scott, which held that blacks aren’t U.S. citizens, is still technically the law of the land in the United States. As you may remember from sixth-grade civics, that decision was nullified by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. It’s the single most dramatic example in American history of the Article V process being used to overturn a terrible Supreme Court ruling; if anything, you’d expect Huckabee to cite it as a model for people to rectify the Obergefell decision by supermajority will. (There’s a good reason Huck doesn’t do that, though.) It falls to Michael Medved to remind him that no, Dred Scott isn’t the law of the land and hasn’t been for 150 years now. So again, you tell me — did Huckabee think he could slip a falsehood like that past Medved, a lawyer by training, or did he genuinely not get the memo about the Reconstruction amendments? Both possibilities seem implausible.

Also implausible: Huck’s still arguing, many months after seizing on this argument, that Supreme Court rulings aren’t binding law until a legislature codifies them by passing a statute. Imagine a legal system where that was true, in which the civil liberties of individuals guaranteed by the Constitution as interpreted by the Court didn’t actually bind the government until a legislative majority signed off on them. Anyone see a problem with making minority rights dependent upon majority will? That’s another case where it’s hard to believe Huckabee’s arguing in good faith — this is, after all, good politics in Iowa even if it’s not good law — but now I don’t know after his Dred Scott point. Maybe it’s only certain especially bad Supreme Court decisions that he thinks should be submitted to the legislature for codification before they’re binding. In that case, which ones? Who gets to decide?

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Jazz Shaw 10:01 PM on January 31, 2023