Embarrassing but true: When the Court’s decision dropped, for the first time in my life, I actually had the thought, “I’m curious to hear what Mike Huckabee says about this.”
He came loaded for bear.
“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.
“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”
“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the laws of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”
As recently as a few weeks ago, the CW on Huckabee 2016 was that he was going to turn down the volume a bit on his social conservatism while turning it way up on kitchen table issues. His problem in ’08 was that everyone saw him as a one-trick fire-breathing pony on “values,” which made him an afterthought everywhere outside the south. The solution this time was to hammer at blue-collar economic anxieties. That’s why he started his campaign with some “molon labe” remarks about Social Security and Medicare. So here comes the big SCOTUS decision and … he’s the first guy out of the chute with a “top this” statement citing the colonies’ armed resistance to George III as inspiration for resisting a Supreme Court ruling. Did his strategy change in the past month? Was he worried that Ted Cruz might make the American-revolution analogy if he didn’t get there first? A Republican nominee can probably get elected president despite opposing gay marriage, especially since the Democratic nominee-in-waiting has only officially supported SSM herself for a few years now. (She’s only supported a constitutional right to SSM for two months.) Given the polling, I’m not sure he can get elected president by threatening a constitutional crisis, or worse, over the issue. Even among America’s gay-marriage opponents, how many view this ruling as so appalling that the GOP Congress should somehow resist its implementation?
And what resistance does he intend, specifically? Here’s what he said in an op-ed published yesterday:
Under our Constitution, we have three, co-equal branches of government. The courts can interpret law but cannot create it. The ruling still requires congressional funding and executive branch enforcement. The Supreme Court is not the “Supreme Branch,” and it is certainly not the Supreme Being. If they can unilaterally make law, and just do whatever they want, then we have judicial tyranny…
Let me be clear: When the Supreme Court abuses the limits of its power and attempts to create a right that doesn’t exist in the Constitution, it is the duty of the president to reject this threat to our religious liberty as “the law of the land.” As president, I will never bow down to the false gods of judicial supremacy.
What congressional funding is he talking about vis-a-vis a decision invalidating state marriage laws? Does he mean Congress should cut off funding that’s unrelated to gay marriage to punish a state for complying with the Court’s ruling? I.e. if a state agrees to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, they don’t get their Medicaid money? It used to be that prominent social conservatives vowed to counter Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage with a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would be a by-the-book constitutional response if it had a prayer of passing. (Scott Walker’s statement in response to today’s ruling says, “As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.”) Since it doesn’t, Huckabee’s moved into murkier remedies. It’s a given, I assume, that he wants county clerks to practice civil disobedience by refusing to issue marriage licenses, but that’s a small-potatoes protest that’ll slow down the process without stopping it. Some clerks will issue the licenses out of a sense of duty, whatever their personal feelings; those who adamantly refuse could be fired and replaced with ones who will. In any case, he’s talking about much grander expressions of opposition here than clerks revolting at the county level. He wants the president and Congress to do something. Okay. What?
Update: Rick Santorum’s also playing this by the book: He supported a Federal Marriage Amendment, he reminds everyone in his statement, and he’d use the bully pulpit as president to make the case for reinstating traditional marriage laws. Both perfectly fair responses. What would Huckabee do beyond that?