Somebody tell Mike Huckabee how the court system works, please

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Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a once and likely future presidential candidate, went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Tuesday, Jan. 20, to explain how just because federal courts — and eventually probably even the U.S. Supreme Court — issue rulings saying that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, that doesn’t mean that the president or Congress or state governors and legislatures don’t have to abide by those rulings.

As reported by TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com, Huckabee said:

“If the federal Supreme Court rules that same sex marriage is protected under the 14th Amendment, you still have to have Congress and the president act to agree with it, because one branch of government does not overrule the other two. This idea that a judge makes a ruling on Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning same-sex marriage licenses are being given out, that’s utter nonsense, because there’s not been any agreement with the other two branches of government.

“One thing I am angry about, though, Hugh, is this notion of judicial supremacy, where if the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that’s settled, and it’s the law of the land. No, it isn’t the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.

Ummmm, I’m no constitutional legal scholar by any stretch. But I am pretty sure that good ol’ Mike hasn’t got the first clue about how our judicial system works and how the courts actually interact with the other two branches of the federal government (and with state governments).

From what I recall from those long-ago days when I was in school, Congress and state legislatures can make laws, and it is precisely the duty of the courts — all the way up to and including the Supreme Court — to make sure that those laws do not violate the rules of the Constitution. And when the courts decide that a law is unconstitutional — as is happening over and over again with marriage equality bans — those laws don’t get to stay in effect.

Even when Hewitt, a conservative himself who happens to be a professor of law (at the same school where the head of the right-wing National Organization for Marriage teaches), reminds Huckabee about the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitution), Huckabee refused to be swayed. He promised that even if he were the only one, he would insist on standing firm against all the courts in all the land because “because I believe it is the right position, it’s the Biblical position, it’s the historical position.”

You can listen to Huckabee here.

 

—  Tammye Nash

More bad news from Election Night: 3 Iowa judges who backed marriage equality are defeated

Tena Callahan

Among the Democrats in Dallas County who hung on to their seats on Tuesday was State District Family Court Judge Tena Callahan, who in 2009 boldly declared Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Callahan defeated Republican opponent Julie Reedy by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, and her landmark decision didn’t appear to have hurt her at all at the polls.

However, the news was not so good for three Supreme Court judges in Iowa who ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2009. The three were all defeated in retention elections on Tuesday, after being targeted by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

NOM spent $600,000 on TV ads and a 45-county bus tour targeting the Iowa justices. Despite their defeat, though, LGBT groups noted that same-sex marriage remains legal in Iowa.

“By their own admission, NOM’s Iowa strategy was about sending a warning shot to judges nationwide,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “NOM and its secret donors will continue to target judges around the country if they rule in favor of marriage equality and will foster an anti-gay, hostile environment in the process.”

Lambda Legal, which brought the lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, had this to say about the result:

“Let’s be clear about what happened in Iowa and what didn’t happen: Three skilled jurists lost their jobs, but the Court’s ruling in the case allowing same-sex couples to marry is still the law of the land, enshrined in the Iowa Constitution. Same-sex couples continue to marry in Iowa. Antigay groups have lost on the big issue — equality — and they are attacking our courts for protecting it.

“This spiteful campaign is a wake-up call to future voters who must resist attempts to politicize the courts. It is the responsibility of us all to protect the system of checks and balances that defines our democracy, and it continues to be our responsibility at Lambda Legal to make our case for equality, not just before judges, but in the court of public opinion.

“We are angry, but we also take the long view: The Iowa Supreme Court delivered justice that will outlast this political fight by upholding the Iowa Constitution’s guarantee of equality for all Iowans. Seven jurists were posed a question by people who had been denied basic fairness guaranteed by the state constitution. The judges did their jobs with integrity – as they must.

“But the result in Iowa shines a light on a dangerous agenda to undermine the democratic system of checks and balances that has served us well for over 200 years. If an embattled judiciary were to lose its ability to protect our laws and constitution with impartiality, that would be a tragic loss for our country. We can’t let that happen.”

—  John Wright