Of all the reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Mike Huckabee’s was perhaps the most distressing:
“I won't acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.”
Well, well, well. Take that, SCOTUS.
Generally speaking, the comments following the court’s announcement were about what you’d expect. Republicans/conservatives thought it was awful; Democrats/liberals liked it.
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For the most part, even the criticisms were measured. Here in Idaho, Gov. Butch Otter said he was “truly disappointed” by the ruling. Rep. Raul Labrador said Congress should act to protect the religious liberty of people who believe in “traditional” marriage. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden commented that the high court has spoken, and that his office would be reviewing the decision to see what the impact might be in Idaho.
On the national level, Rick Perry promised that if he is elected president, he will appoint conservative justices. Rick Santorum whined that the “unelected judges” in the majority had “redefined the foundation unit of society.”
While saying he believes in “traditional marriage,” Jeb Bush included some soft words: “I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.”
And Ted Cruz, writing in the National Journal, referred to the “lawless” decision and outlined the changes he’d like to see in the future: a constitutional amendment allowing state legislatures to define marriage, removing federal court jurisdiction over “legal assaults” on marriage, and adopting a constitutional amendment requiring judicial-retention elections for justices of the high court.
We get it: They didn’t like the court’s ruling. But none of them went as far as Huckabee. No one else suggested we should just ignore the Supreme Court.
Our three-legged stool of government — executive, legislative, judicial — relies to a great extent on our willingness to comply with decisions, laws, executive orders and so on, until they are overturned or amended or repealed. Most of us are law-abiding citizens even when we have to hold our noses.
Back during WWII, when Stalin was asked to consider the Vatican view on an issue, he replied, “The pope! How many divisions has he got?” He was of the Might Makes Right school of thought, which suggests that since neither the pope nor the Supreme Court has an army, those opinions or decisions can safely be ignored.
Huckabee seems to be more in the Supreme Court Decisions Are a Smorgasbord school, implying that we can pick and choose which decisions we want to comply with and which ones we “won’t acquiesce” to.
Would that we could. Most of us can think of a few decisions we’d prefer to ignore. But that’s not how the system of government works in this nation.
Abortion rights, affirmative action, political campaign contributions, Obamacare, death penalty practices, gun ownership, Miranda rights — there’s a long, long list of court decisions that thrilled some of us and infuriated others. That can’t come as a surprise, because if there were unanimity of opinion on these issues, the cases wouldn’t have been filed in the first place. To a great extent, the U.S. Supreme Court is the place where we throw our most controversial hot potatoes, and we agree as a nation to live with whatever we get back.
Another Republican candidate for president, Marco Rubio, showed his understanding of how all of this works by commenting, “While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law.”
Rubio gets it. Huckabee doesn’t. Maybe Rubio should invite Huckabee to a tutorial on Government 101 to make it crystal clear to Huckabee that the country he wants to be president of is a nation of laws, and not a nation where citizens get to decide whether they will or won’t “acquiesce” to lawfully reached decisions.
Lindy High, of Boise, is a retired Idaho state employee who worked for elected officials of both parties.