As overused as it might sound, William Shakespeare wrote the most precise description of Mike Huckabee: “O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!” The most dastardly thing about Huckabee is that, words and content aside, he seems like a nice enough guy. With his Jim Nabors smile and his old-timey zingers, he seems like a fun uncle or the office card — that guy from accounting who’s always posting Dilbert cartoons on the break room bulletin board while occasionally slipping a poo-poo cushion on your chair. Annoying and a little too old fashioned, but not unlikable.
But then he starts talking about politics and he might as well be twisting a dull-bladed farming implement into your back.
The same grinning demon who blurted out a hamfisted defense of the Duggars in the wake of the sexual molestation confession of 27-year-old Josh Duggar, and who previously condemned the President and Mrs. Obama for allowing their children to listen to Beyonce, twisted that farm tool a little more over the weekend when he appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and discussed judicial review.
Several weeks ago, we got a small taste of an all-new conservative line on judicial review from the always soporific Dr. Ben Carson who insisted that the Supreme Court and district courts are creating “judicial law,” as if there’s such a thing. In Huckabee’s case, Chris Wallace made it clear that judicial review has been the law of the land since Marbury v. Madison established it in 1803 — that the courts reserve the right to review the constitutionality of laws and either uphold those laws or to strike them down as unconstitutional an therefore illegal. Among other acts of intellectual violence, Huckabee replied:
“Judicial review is exactly what we have lived under; we have not lived under judicial supremacy,” Huckabee said. “The Supreme Court can’t make a law; the legislature has to make it, the executive has to sign it and enforce it. The notion that the Supreme Court comes up with a ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is to equal branches of government.”
Bottom line: this is all about same-sex marriage and abortion. Nothing else. The conservative tea party wing of the GOP is surreptitiously attempting to manufacture another loophole to circumvent both Roe v. Wade and, at the same time, the judiciary’s rapid overturning of anti-LGBT legislation and ballot initiatives. Huckabee, Carson and the think-tanks that constructed this argument are laying the groundwork for a future GOP president to simply waive Roe and to ignore an entire menu of rulings, especially the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. They’re softening voters to the idea that judicial review is actually some form on heinous overreach and therefore the executive should rightfully have the option to simply ignore it.
More immediate and more chilling is how this could influence governors to ignore state-level rulings on same-sex marriage.
It’s difficult to emphasize how truly dangerous this is. Faced with a growing popular acceptance of same-sex marriage, certain Machiavellian elements of the far-right are devising new and increasingly perverse ways to undermine all of it. Whether it’s so-called “religious freedom” laws or this slippery re-definition of the role of the courts, they appear to be exploiting the naivete and ignorance of conservative voters who, by-in-large, will buy into anything that gets ping-ponged around the conservative entertainment complex — Fox News Channel and the like. Does anyone really think that a voter who believes Sarah Palin would’ve been a great vice president, or who thinks the climate crisis is hoax, or who thinks Hurricane Katrina was Obama’s fault actually knows what the hell Marbury is and why it’s both important and biding? Not a chance, and that’s the cynicism of the Huckabee wing of the party. As long as it sounds “truthy” then it must be true.
The reality is that if the courts rule that an anti-LGBT law is unconstitutional, that law ceases to be applicable. If the Supreme Court rules that anti-abortion laws are unconstitutional and that women have a right to privacy when it comes to their bodies, then those anti-abortion laws are nullified. It’s been that way for more than 200 years — that is unless the ignorant rabble that’s become the GOP base decides it’s not, empowering con-artists like Huckabee to keep repeating it and repeating it until they control the debate enough to grind everything to a halt, not unlike the climate debate.
One more thing: how tragically hilarious is it that the same party that insists Obama is serially engaged in impeachment-worthy executive overreach also insists that George W. Bush was a great president (75 percent support according to a recent poll) and that the president can simply ignore Supreme Court rulings? Look, the Democrats might be wrong some of the time, but at least they’re not consistently and deliberately ignorant — at least they don’t champion ludicrous ideas. Hell, even George Will thinks Huckabee is out of his minds with this “appalling” judicial supremacy thing. I’ll take it, but “appalling” totally understates how terrible it is.