And Thomas Paine thought that his were the times that tried men’s souls….
Recently, the Oklahoma House has approved legislation purporting to protect ministers who refuse to conduct same-sex weddings from civil liability.
Evidently, they don’t teach basic civics in Oklahoma. (As I have previously noted, they aren’t too keen on American history, either.) News flash, Oklahoma legislature! The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment got there first! It already provides the religious liberty you want to “restore.” For the zillionth time: churches and their clergy are exempt from civil rights laws that conflict with their theology. They’re protected from the nefarious “gay agenda” by that Constitution you all pretend you’ve read.
It’s maddening enough that state legislators–including a not-insignificant number from Indiana–are clueless about the actual application of the religion clauses, but it is mind-boggling when a (presumably plausible) candidate for President of the United States exhibits abject ignorance of the most basic Constitutional principles.
Recently, Mike Huckabee spoke to a group of rightwing pastors about the pending Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage, and he began by repeating the same tired lie: if the Court rules for marriage equality, pastors will be sued or jailed for refusing to preside over same-sex nuptials. It’s hard to know whether Huckabee is really that uninformed, or whether his statement was just reflexive demagoguery of the sort he regularly delivered during his stint at Fox News.
What really set me off, however, was his follow-up to that bit of dishonest rabble-rousing:
Getting a decision from the court, it’s not tantamount to saying ‘well that settles it. It’s the law of the land.’ And when I hear people say that I just cringe and I’m thinking ‘How many people pass 9th grade civics?’ This is not that complicated. There are three branches of government, not one. We don’t like it if the executive branch overreaches and pretends that it can act in difference to the other two. And neither can we sit back and allow the court, one branch of government to overrule the other two. And so when a court rules that same sex marriage is okay, it doesn’t mean that the next day, marriage licenses should be issued for same sex couples. It simply means that if the legislature agrees with that court decision and the representatives of the people—the elected officials—if they then put that into legislation and it is signed and enforced by the executive branch, then you have same sex marriage. But until those other two branches act, what you have is a court opinion and nothing else.
I hate to tell you, Mike, but when the Supreme Court issues a decision, that does settle it. Short of a constitutional amendment, it’s over.
How can a man who was a Governor of a state, a man who has run for President of this country, who has debated legal and policy issues with knowledgable people, have so little grasp of the most basic operation and structure of the American legal system?
If Huckabee really does know better– if he is just counting on the ignorance of his audience–the fact that he can make such statements secure in the knowledge that no one listening will know enough to challenge him is even more depressing.
Evidently, no one ever took 9th grade civics.