Ben Carson declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination and it only took him a couple days to prove yet again that he is utterly clueless about the Constitution. He thinks that not only do states not have to follow Supreme Court rulings, the federal government doesn’t either.
Yesterday on Newsmax TV, Ben Carson said that the federal government does not need to recognize a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage because the president is only obligated to recognize laws passed by Congress, not judicial rulings.
“First of all, we have to understand how the Constitution works, the president is required to carry out the laws of the land, the laws of the land come from the legislative branch,” Carson said. “So if the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say they have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law.”
There is no such thing as a “judicial law,” but the Supreme Court does have the power to overturn laws passed by the legislature and therefore cannot be enforced by the executive branch. Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist 78 that this ability is so crucial to maintaining a free society that without it, all of the rights protected by the Constitution would be rendered meaningless:
The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex post facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.
And of course, Carson would only make this argument when he disagrees with the Supreme Court. If the court had ruled that the government cannot force people to buy health insurance in the first challenge to the Affordable Care Act and Obama had said, “the legislative branch creates a law or changes a law, the executive branch has a responsibly to carry it out. It doesn’t say I have the responsibility to carry out a judicial law,” can you even imagine the outcry from Carson and other conservatives? TYRANNY! HITLER! REVOLUTION!
If the Supreme Court rules in a way Carson likes, you know damn well he would say that the president is bound by that ruling. Only if they rule in a way he doesn’t like would he make this idiotic argument.