Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee appeared last Sunday on "This Week," anchored by former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos.
Below is a transcript of their discussion (watch Youtube here), in which Huckabee explains that Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis is within her right as an elected official -- following Kentucky law, federal law, and the U.S. Constitution -- to refuse to bow to judicial tyranny, in this case the judicial tyranny of a court order demanding that she obey a Supreme Court ruling as if that ruling were a piece of legislation, which it is not:
George Stephanopoulos: Governor, thank you for joining us this morning. I know you're going to be going to Kentucky on Tuesday as a part of demonstration and support of Kim Davis.
But there are some dissenting voices in the conservative movement. I wanted you to respond to something from Rod Dreher in The American Conservative.
He says that, "The Supreme Court makes a ruling we don't like, we are obliged to obey the law or be willing to suffer the consequences of disobedience. What we cannot do, and what the government cannot permit, is open defiance of settled law."
He believes this is going to backfire on the religious liberty movement.
What's your response?
Mike Huckabee: Well, he would have hated Abraham Lincoln because Lincoln ignored the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said black people weren't fully human. It was a wrong decision. And to say that we have to surrender to judicial supremacy is to do what Jefferson warned against, which is, in essence, surrender to judicial tyranny.
And we had so many different presidents, including Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln -- there were other founders like Hamilton, Adams -- who made it very clear that the courts can't make a law. The Constitution is expressly clear that that's a power reserved to Congress.
When the courts have a ruling, then it is incumbent on Congress to codify that into law and specifically delineate what that means. That hasn’t happened, George.
Stephanopoulos: But, sir, how is this different, then, from Loving v. Virginia back in 1967? Of course that was a Supreme Court ruling that struck down bans on interracial marriage. If a clerk at that time had said, “Listen, my religious beliefs forbid me from issuing this license,” would you support that?
Huckabee: Well, it's an incredibly different situation --
Stephanopoulos: How so?
Huckabee: -- because what the Supreme Court did in Loving -- No, it’s not the same, George, not even close. Because in Loving you still had a marriage which was a man and a woman, and it was equal protection. But it didn’t redefine marriage. What’s -- the Supreme Court did in June --
Stephanopoulos: But you didn’t have laws implementing --
Huckabee: And this is why I think --
Stephanopoulos: You didn’t have laws implementing the ruling then either, so would it have been OK to defy the Supreme Court in that case?
Huckabee: I think it’s -- again, it's a very different equation altogether because this is a redefinition. Marriage is not defined in the federal Constitution at all. It's a matter for the states. And applying the 14th Amendment to the equality of men and women in their relationship in marriage is totally different than redefining marriage.
And I think what we’ve seen here is the overreach of the judiciary. This, if allowed to stand without any congressional approval, without any kind of enabling legislation, is what Jefferson warned us about. That’s judicial tyranny.
Stephanopoulos: I’m not sure I follow your reasoning, sir. This is exactly the same. In both cases, you have the Supreme Court saying --
Huckabee: No, it’s not.
Stephanopoulos: -- that state laws further the Constitution, don’t further the 14th Amendment.
Huckabee: George, can you cite for me what statute Kim Davis would be required follow in order to issue a same-sex marriage license in Kentucky when her state specifically says, by 75% of the voters, that marriage means one man, one woman? Can you cite the statute at the federal or state level that she’s supposed to follow? Even the very form that she fills out specifically lists a male and a female. Does she have the authority just to scratch that out and create her own?
Stephanopoulos: Doesn’t she have to the duty to obey a legal order from the court?
Huckabee: Well, you obey it if it’s right. So I go back to my question. Is slavery the law of the land? Should it have been the law of the land because Dred Scott said so? Was that a correct decision? Should the courts have been irrevocably followed on that? Should Lincoln have been put in jail? Because he ignored it.
I mean, that’s the fundamental question. Do we have a check-and-balance system? Do we have three equal branches? Or do we have one supreme branch, not just the Supreme Court? That’s the fundamental question.
And, George, this is a bigger issue than this one thing. This goes back to the larger issue of whether or not what we’ve learned in 9th-grade civics is even still operative. And why people are so angry across the country, not just on this issue but on others, is that the ruling class has thumbed their nose at the very Constitution.
You’ve got Democrats who ignored the law when it was the law to have traditional marriage.
Gavin Newsom in San Francisco as mayor performed same-sex weddings even though it was illegal. Did he ever get put in jail? He most certainly did not.
You have Barack Obama and Eric Holder, when he was attorney general. They ignored the rulings of DOMA. Did they get put in jail for ignoring the law? They most certainly did not.
So when is it that liberals get to choose which laws they support, but a county clerk in Kentucky who, acting on her Christian faith, is criminalized, jailed without bail, because she acted on her conscience and according to the only law that is in front of her?
Stephanopoulos: One of the most memorable statements ever made by a president on separation of church and state was a quote from John F. Kennedy to the Baptist ministers back in his campaign in 1960. Let me play a bit of that.
(Video clip begins)
John F. Kennedy, President of the United States: But if the time should ever come, and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible, when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office.
(Video clip ends)
Stephanopoulos: Would you make that same statement in your candidacy for president?
Huckabee: I can't see any circumstance in which I would be required to violate my conscience and -- and the law. And if so, I think maybe there is a point at which you say either I'll resign or put me in jail.
But what I want to go back to is that --
Stephanopoulos: But let me -- before you do --
Huckabee: -- if we -- listen --
Stephanopoulos: -- before you do, though, let me ask you, a follow-up on that --
Stephanopoulos: -- because I've just [garbled] for one situation. The federal government now recognizes same-sex marriage for tax purposes. Health, Social Security and death benefits go to same-sex couples.
So would you resign rather than carry out those policies?
Huckabee: Well, when you say the federal government recognizes it, what statute under which do they recognize it?
They do it by decree, but there is no congressionally elected -- or voted upon statute.
George, let me --
Stephanopoulos: So you would reverse that?
Huckabee: Let me give you an example. When I was governor -- No, let me finish this, because it's very important.
When I was governor, we had a Supreme Court case on school finance that said we were inadequate and inequitable. They ruled. I read the ruling. I agreed with it. I knew it was right.
But I didn't just sit down at my desk and start writing new checks to school districts. We had to go back to the legislature, come up with a school funding formula. It was passed. I signed it. And then we ordered the Department of Education to send checks.
We are bypassing the process when we have one branch of government acting as [if] it has authority over the other two. And what I'm coming back to -- and I -- I think people are missing this -- either we live under the rule of law, which is a three-branch, checks-and-balances system of government, or we end up with what I think was so powerful when Lincoln said this -- and I want to read this.
He said, "If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court the instant they are made, then in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of this imminent tribunal."
We either -- we either are a people of government, a people of law, and we are a nation of the people, or we are a nation under the power of the Supreme Court, which is what --
Huckabee: -- the dissenting opinion of Roberts and Scalia so powerfully said.
Stephanopoulos: Governor Huckabee, that's all we have --