Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 7, 2014.
Susan Walsh/AP

Huckabee eyes nullification plan in response to marriage ruling

Last week, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) took some odd rhetorical shots at Beyonce, he complained about her “lyrical content.” The likely Republican presidential candidate was not arguing from a credible position – Huckabee performed on Fox News with Ted Nugent, with “lyrical content” that was anything but family-friendly.
 
Asked for an explanation, Huckabee said this week that Nugent “changed the lyrics pretty dramatically” for their joint performance. The defense is plainly untrue.
 
But as it turns out, that’s only the second most ridiculous thing Huckabee has said this week. Consider these comments yesterday to conservative host Hugh Hewitt.
“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.”
Hewitt pressed further, asking if county clerks should ignore the Supreme Court if the justices rule in support of marriage equality. Huckabee again pushed the idea of enabling legislation, adding, “[S]tate legislatures … would have to create legislation that the governor would sign. If they don’t, then there is not same sex marriage in that state. Now if the federal courts say, ‘Well, you’re going to have to do it,’ well, then you have a confrontation.”
 
If all of this sounds a bit crazy, there’s a good reason for that. As David Graham’s report explained, “In 1957, the state believed it could block the Little Rock School Board from adhering to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. President Eisenhower disagreed, and dispatched troops to show Governor Orval Faubus how wrong he was. Faubus is not an historical model most contemporary politicians would be willing to follow.”
 
This is not the first time Huckabee has floated his bizarre legal theory. In October, the former Fox News host argued that a Supreme Court ruling is only an “opinion,” which has no force of law unless and until policymakers also choose to act. High court rulings, he added, are “not the ‘law of the land’ as is often heralded.”
 
In case it’s not obvious, what Huckabee is describing, especially as it relates to the marriage cases at the high court, is a sort of “nullification” plan in which states ignore federal rulings they don’t like.
 
Fortunately, the American system of government doesn’t work this way – the debate, such as it was, ended with the Civil War – and there is no such thing as mandatory “enabling legislation” that follows decisions from the judiciary.
 
Whether Huckabee, a former two-term governor, is genuinely confused about the basics of American civics or is just looking for attention, your guess is as good as mine.
 

Gay Rights, Marriage, Marriage Equality, Mike Huckabee, Nullification and Supreme Court

Huckabee eyes nullification plan in response to marriage ruling