Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee thinks that state officials can ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling that states must recognize and provide marriage for same-sex couples.

Speaking prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, the former Governor had this to say:

Constitutionally, the Courts cannot make a law.  They can interpret one . . .  This idea that a judge makes rulings 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 branches of government. . .[1]

According to Gabriel Malor, Huckabee speaks “gobbledygook”.  The issue upon which Huckabee gives an opinion was settled in the case of Marbury v. Madison.  It is not the case as Huckabee suggests that all three branches of the federal government must first agree on what the law is for it to be the law of the land.

It would appear that Huckabee is urging a repeat of the confrontation that existed in school desegregation between federal judges and state authorities.  Most interestingly, Huckabee is not alone in his understanding of how the constitution should work.[2]  Paul DeHart points out that Huckabee understands the Constitution like Thomas Jefferson did.  DeHart quotes Jefferson:

. . . But the opinion which gives to the Judges the right to decide what Law are constitutional, and what are not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislative and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.

Unfortunately for Jefferson, his cousin, John Marshall, saw things differently and the Marbury v. Madison decision has resolved the question.  Notwithstanding Marbury, various presidents throughout history have disagreed with the Supreme Court as the final decision maker on what the law is.  In other words, these presidents have a similar understanding of the Constitution as Huckabee does.  These presidents include:  Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney

[1] (January 28, 2015).  Malor, Gabriel. Mike Huckabee Urges A Constitutional Crisis Over Marriage.  The Federalist.  Retrieved from

[2] (February 5, 2015). DeHart, Paul. Huckabee Understands The Constitution Like Those Who Wrote It.  The Federalist.  Retrieved from