Fourth, Huckabee’s musing that “somebody has to decide” if the Supreme Court is right on marriage calls to mind another Arkansas governor who infamously thought his own beliefs trumped the Supreme Court. In 1957, Gov. Orval Faubus tried to prevent racial desegregation in schools, which had been ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, by ordering the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the black students known as the Little Rock Nine from entering their previously whites-only high school.
As any ninth-grade civics class could tell you, Faubus’ obstinacy provoked a violent constitutional confrontation that took the intervention of President Eisenhower to resolve. Eisenhower ended up nationalizing that same Arkansas National Guard to ensure that desegregation went ahead as ordered by the Supreme Court. To their great credit, the guardsmen recognized their lawful orders. The Supreme Court’s determination trumped a state official’s personal beliefs, as contemplated by the supremacy clause. The cost, however, was raising arms against fellow Americans.
Huckabee, hopefully, wasn’t suggesting that a confrontation on marriage should go so far, although he didn’t explain what he thought would happen if state officials tried to ignore a Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage between same-sex couples. We can, however, find some guidance on that question from the other federal judges to face the issue.