Most sane people who love America know the Kim Davis – Mike Huckabee spectacle is nothing short of unconscionable. However, unless you are really well read or survived the first year of law school, you may not know the actual legal reasons why their behavior is so utterly reprehensible.
Its time to get schooled.
In today’s session, we will be learning about the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and our history of assholes who think they can ignore Federal law to discriminate against others. Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee are nothing more than replays of what happens every time this country expands Civil Rights to include another group of people.
Before I delve into the educational part of today’s session, let me share with you some outstanding accomplishments made possible in America because we have the Supremacy Clause and the concept of Federal preemption:
- Due Process
- The Dollar Bill
- Handicap Toilets
- Uniform Electrical Outlets
- Paris Peace Treaties (ended WWII-Europe)
- Japanese Instrument of Surrender (ended WWII-Pacific)
- Television, Radio, and The Internet
- Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Festivus
- Yelling “Fuck You” at People You Don’t Like
All these things are possible because we have a Federal government that is in charge. Our core system is universal state to state. We don’t have chaos on core matters where each state can mint its own money, enter into its own treaties, decide who is a human and who isn’t, and decide 50 different ways to answer 50 different questions. Like the human body, there must be a central nervous system with local control over non-core matters.
This is not a new concept. It is as old as this country. Equally, it is well established having survived every challenge to its legitimacy for nearly 250 years. In fact, a little spat called the Civil War resolved the Supremacy of the Federal government long ago.
The Supreme Law of the Land
Ever wonder why the highest court in the land is called the SUPREME court? It is because its rulings have supremacy over any other law, any other court, and other contradictory rule, order, code, whatever. All state judges must follow Federal law whenever a state law conflicts with Federal law.
The Supremacy Clause is very simple to understand. It is the simple rule that says the Constitution and Federal law win any instance where there is a contradictory State law. It is written in the same Constitution that endows us with religious freedom, the right to vote, Due Process, etc. Bottom line – Federal law always wins. It is the stick of dynamite in rock, scissors, paper. It never loses. Story end.
Article VI, Clause II of the United States Constitution reads as follows:
…This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding…
The history of this concept goes as far back as the Federalist Papers. In Federalist #33, Alexander Hamilton argued that the Supremacy Clause was a guarantee that the Government’s powers would be properly executed. In the absence of supreme authority, the Government would have no real power and would be utterly ineffective at everything (worse than it is now with authority, if you can imagine that).
In Federalist #44, James Madison argued that the Supremacy Clause was absolutely vital to the successful functioning of the nation. To appreciate this, you must consider the historical context – namely, that the States were a fragile, rebellious group who had just broken the yoke of British totalitarianism. Yet – it was recognized that a country with 13 colonies making 13 decisions on every issue could not function, nor survive.
The History of Selective Constitutionalism in the Face of Expanded Civil Rights
Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee are full of shit. They scream and yell about their religious rights as though they don’t come from the same Constitution that also gives Supremacy to Federal law which now guarantees LGBT Marriage. To make matters worse, they aren’t the first to invoke religion to justify insubordination against expanded Civil Rights. In fact, future generations will remember them like we remember some of the most nefarious racists in our national history. Here are some highlights:
In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that state laws which segregate black children into separate schools away from white children were unconstitutional. However, this didn’t go over so well in places like the Deep South.
For instance, in 1957, Arkansas’ governor, Orval Faubus, used his state’s National Guard to prevent black students from attending a local high school. In response, President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and sent troops from the 101st Airborne Division to enforce the Federal law.
In 1963, Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, was elected on his policy of “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever”. Furthering this agenda, Wallace refused to allow African American students to attend the University of Alabama. In fact, he personally positioned himself at the entrance to the university’s auditorium to physically block the entry of black students. Wallace only caved in when President John F. Kennedy sent the National Guard to physically enforce the new law.
After 1990, when the U.S. Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, religious groups like The Association of Christian Schools International and the National Association of Evangelicals actually argued against the ADA because it would force them to spend money to accommodate worshippers with disabilities and force them to change their employment practices.
Long before desegregation and the ADA, the history of opposition to any kind of progressive movement, especially those designed to further equality, were all met with opposition. This blog is not big enough to name them all. From Jim Crow laws to Kim Davis today, all progressive change has been grudgingly met by the screaming discord of leaders who refuse to subordinate their behavior to conform to the law for one reason or another.
The Sickening Corruption of Mike Huckabee
You can say what you want about Kim Davis, and I have a lot to say, but the one thing I do know is that she wholeheartedly believes what she is saying. On the contrary, I think Mike Huckabee is an opportunist taking advantage of the emotionally driven, religious mania being stoked in Kentucky.
While Kim Davis appears to be very ignorant, Mike Huckabee knows exactly how the law works and he is very aware of the Supremacy Clause. He is equally aware of how utterly important it is to sustain our country and protect our Civil Liberties – freedom of religion among the most important.
Yet he calls the actions taken by a Federal judge to enforce the laws, that Kim Davis took an oath as a public servant to uphold, as the “criminalization of Christianity.” He appears in Kentucky to stoke the emotions of religious zealots who think it is appropriate to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court over an issue that concerns the expansion of Civil Liberties.
Using his position of authority as a presidential candidate, Huckabee is intentionally undermining a core concept that keeps this country going – namely, his actions over the past few days undermine the Supremacy Clause and the preemption of Federal law over the States.
This is a corruption of the worst kind because it serves to disintegrate the system that keeps us a Free People.
I do not object to his entitlement of an opinion that differs from that of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is absolutely entitled to disagree. However, his actions in getting religious zealots all riled up and by lending his authority to their absolutely incorrect conclusion that religious belief trumps a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that controls who a local Clerk of Court is to issue marriage licenses to, is nothing short of irresponsible.
He is not fit for president and lacks the character that a true leader would exude.
On some level, Mike Huckabee has to know he has no realistic chance of winning the presidential race. He may have following in small Kentucky towns, but he will never win big.
So it begs the question, why is he in Kentucky being so public and doing what he is doing? I think it is for nothing but simple self-promotion… and that makes me sick. Yet another person who enters the presidential race not for the benefit of the country, but for the sole benefit of himself.
It is sad to see how the most capable people have taken flight from leadership in this country. All we are left with are these self-promoting nitwits who do not care about the damage they cause in their quest for self-promotion.
If we are to continue to be a great nation, we must turn this around and call out people like Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee for what they are – nothing more than ghosts of racist past that we must endure every time our Civil Liberties evolve one step further.