Ben Carson Says: Judges Overturning Unconstitutional Laws Is Unconstitutional

The Nazi-baiting doctor currently on leave from Fox News, Ben Carson, who thinks that ObamaCare is “the worst thing since slavery,” has stepped in another pile of bull manure on his way to the Republican primary for president of the United States.

Ben Carson

Carson was interviewed by wingnut schlock-jock Steve Deace this week and was asked about his position on the recent court rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage. His answer demonstrated a pitifully weak grasp of the Constitution and marks him as just another ignorant Teabagger spewing falsehoods and animosity toward those with whom he disagrees.

The issue that got Carson riled up was the spate of court rulings, many by Republican-appointed judges, affirming the right to marry without regard to sexual orientation. He began by praising the state referendums that explicitly imposed legal barriers to marriage for those of the same sex. According to Carson, such referendums should take precedence over liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Presumably that would apply to states banning marriage between people of different races. But then he goes even further, advocating federal tyranny over the independent judiciary:

“Thirty-two states have indicated that marriage is between a man and a woman, and a few judges have come and overturned that. That, as far as I’m concerned, is unconstitutional, and Congress actually has oversight of all what they call the inferior courts, everything below the Supreme Court, and that’s where those overturns have come. And when judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them.”

First of all, Carson’s assertion that it is unconstitutional for judges to overturn laws that they conclude violate the Constitution is pitifully stupid. Validating the constitutionality of legislation is a core function of the judiciary. This guy may have scored high marks in medical school, but he clearly knows nothing about law.

Secondly, Carson’s eagerness to appoint the Congress as overseers of the judiciary is both wrong and dangerous. This country was established with three separate branches of government and the Founders never intended for Congress to be able to “reprimand or remove” judges for anything less than a serious breach of ethics. Congress has no authority to impeach a judge because they don’t agree with his opinions.

To date, twenty-five states have had same-sex marriage bans overturned in the courts. That suggests a fairly mainstream school of legal opinion on the subject. Consequently, it would impossible to argue that all of those judges were guilty of some sort of ethical breach in arriving at their decisions. The Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case on the matter later this year.

The risk in Carson’s position is that it would would put every judge in legal jeopardy every time they issued a ruling that was adverse to some politician’s bigotry. On a policy level it is an unconstitutional intrusion on the independence of the judiciary. But on a personal level it reveals Carson’s ugly prejudices and a desire to oppress people who don’t adhere to his religious doctrine. And the Tea Party fruitcakes think this guy would make a good president?

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24 thoughts on “Ben Carson Says: Judges Overturning Unconstitutional Laws Is Unconstitutional

  1. That’s precisely why they think he would be a good candidate. His thinking aligns with their backward thought patterns.

  2. These tea party types make all sorts of wild statements, none of which are thought out. They are knee jerk reactions to events they don’t like.

  3. Of course, if the fool actually became president — and assuming the oversight he wants becomes law beforehand — the first time the Congress decided against one of his pet petitions, suddenly this oversight is unconstitutional and how dare the Congress try to impede the President’s wishes!

    Search your feelings, you know this to be true…

  4. On the issue of state referendums – that to me is debatable. If government authority comes only from the people, does any branch of that government have the authority to go against the explicit will of same people – in this case a direct vote by the people on a specific issue in a specific state. Since the constitution doesn’t specifically note the federal governments authority to regulate marriage – then maybe the 10th amendment permits the states the power over that issue. I happen to feel the idea that any state wastes any time telling adults who they can marry – same sex or not, it dumb. But in the case of the people speaking directly on a law through a direct vote – I take the view the people have spoken and the court should respect it. Other issues have been specifically addressed through constitutional amendments and would not permit that type of law to be enacted, but I don’t think marriage falls into that category.

    • Yes they do, esp the courts that determine whether a law is constitutional. And the court has already ruled that marriage is a right back with Loving vs Virginia when it declared that a ban on interracial marriage was struck down. In that case marriage was declared a right and couldn’t be denied by any state law. That ruling struck down all similar laws in other states.
      Plus the founders were very explicit in their desire to not have the rights of any minority to be dictated by the majority. Hence the ability of the courts to strike down laws denying rights to a minority. otherwise the majority could determine that any minority for any reason could be denied equal rights.
      That is why we don’t vote on who gets rights in this country, it is illegal, though many people keep trying to do that very same thing. And while unfortunately it can take a long time for the courts to establish that a minority does have the same rights as the majority, in the end we have been working to make sure that all have the same rights.

      • My argument was strictly philosophical as to the power of the government over the will of the people in individual states. I don’t disagree with what you say, but these states who seem to use referendums frequently – California is a big one – clearly permit laws to be enacted through a direct vote of the people. The US constitution is about the powers of federal government – not the states. The 10th amendment leaves all other powers not explicitly stated in the constitution to the states. Now you could have cited section 1 of the 14th amendment to argue my point – but again, my comment was more about general philosophy. Federalism is difficult and a bit sticky on issues such as this – I guess it’s best left to legal minds who can remain totally objective.

        • There is absolutely no “general philosophical” controversy with regard to the priority of constitutional law over state law. Voters may not pass referendums that violate anyone’s civil liberties – period. For you to suggest there is any time when that is permissible is just nuts.

          That said, you are once again missing the point here. Which is that Carson may have been a good doctor, but as a politician he is an ignorant theocrat who says he is for small government except when he wants the government to enforce his religious principles.

          • Try to think about what you think is “nuts” a little differently – you take that position in the case of the people voting (in a referendum) for something that may violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment – but you would and have argued the opposite if government was doing the same thing in the name of “safety” or some other reason you feel is justified (think 2nd amendment). Maybe we’re both “nuts” at times – but don’t think you’re any better or any more consistent than me. The philosophical issue I was trying to make is more about how any government can at any time do what it wants against the will of the people by setting aside their direct choice as reflected in a referendum. I’m more on your side than you think, I’m just more cautious about the idea that when the people state what they want very clearly in a referendum- government should always be cautious when taking a position opposing the will of the people. Because at some point – it could be argued – the peoples will no longer matters and government will is all that counts. And I don’t want a Ben Carson theocracy any more than you do.

    • So how often will we have referendums? I live in Michigan, where there was a referendum and constitutional change to one man/one woman marriages. Recent polls indicate that any referendum on the subject today would be significantly different.

      Since when do we govern by poplar vote when it comes to civil rights?

      • Hey, I didn’t create any referendum policy and have limited experience with them. I guess some states feel they need them for whatever reason – I’ve only seen a couple referendum questions in my 20+ years voting and they generally had to do with minor issues such as state funding for local infrastructure projects – nothing so big as gay marriage. I would prefer the legislature does its job. When they’ve screwed up, there has been a lot of turnover from voters and I’m happy with that. Not sure why different states have chosen that route – you would need to examine their own political climate and purposes.

  5. Dr. Carson makes me think that racists are actually onto something.

  6. Two thoughts come to mind whenever “doctor” Carson spews his ideas in public…

    1] Did this guy graduate from the same medical school as Dr. Demento?

    2] I can’t help being reminded of Samuel Jackson’s riveting character in ‘Django Unchained’… does that make me a bad person? (Never mind — I am bad! ;^)

  7. It doesn’t matter philosophically about it. Rights are always the federal purview and trump the states’ laws or referendums. That also includes amendments. Which is why in civil right cases that have been decided, the decisions affect all the states no matter how much they complain. I could cite a number of cases such as Loving, sodomy laws, etc. that all the states have been dragged into complying.
    Since the basic concept of the federal constitution is equal rights for everyone, nothing a state does can take away or deny a right the federal government gives. Since marriage was recognized to be a right, the court should rule that it applies to all.

    • Skip – can you clarify this statement “rights are always the federal purview”? What exactly do you mean by that? and I don’t think marriage itself was ever recognized to be a right – I think it falls under the idea of liberty – which cannot be denied by any state under the 14th amendment without due process of law.

      And the federal government doesn’t give us our rights – they are ours regardless of government – hence their being called inalienable. All rights are ours naturally – if you give the power to bestow rights to the government – then all can be taken away too. It’s governments job to guarantee and protect those rights.

      • So if rights are ours regardless of government, why do you deny gays the right to get married and receive the same benefits you do? Shouldn’t the rights be theirs as well?

        • I don’t think I ever took the position against gay marriage – I support peoples rights to do what they want so long as they don’t hurt others or infringe on other’s rights. In fact – I’m less of a threat against individual freedom than anyone here – given past commentaries I’ve read.

  8. Well the government, by virtue of the courts determine what rights are ours. So the guarantee of rights does come from the federal government 1st. Inalienable rights is a great phrase, but exactly what does it mean? It can mean anything someone likes it to be really. Which is why the courts have been used to define what it does mean. Now the courts have slowly added to rights that are promised by the constitution through their decisions.
    To say the government doesn’t give us our rights, that they just are could be used to justify anything, doesn’t mean anything. Exactly what rights would those be? There are many who insist they have a right that is denied by the government. That is where the courts come in, to determine whether they actually do have that right.
    The right to privacy was one such instance. It is not in the constitution, yet the courts ended up saying that implicitly we do because of certain amendments.. Others have insisted they have a right and the courts have disagreed. Eminent domain is one such area where property owners have insisted that they have the right to not sell their property when the government chooses to take it. That fight is going on right now in certain mid-west states where the keystone pipeline is proposed to be built. Eminent domain has always won in most cases.
    In Loving vs Virginia the supreme court in their decision stated the following:
    “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications …is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.”
    As noted in that, it says the freedom to marry has been recognized as a vital personal right.
    So in the end all our rights do come from our government, try using what you think is a right that isn’t recognized. You might be able to win in a court battle if you can prove that it really is indeed a right. But otherwise, you will not have the right. And yes a government can take away rights. It has done so throughout the history of this country. Jim crow laws, slavery, property laws for voting, women not being able to vote, bans against same sex marriage, bans on interracial marriage, etc, etc, etc. Otherwise there would be no fight over rights if government didn’t take rights away from people.
    There are laws in some states that atheists are not allowed to hold political office, which is against the constitution. And all those laws and bans were by the majority denying rights to minorities, something the founders were very much against. The majority to this day insist that they have the right to deny minorities their rights in a number of areas. And they get away with it until the government steps in (usually by the courts) and says no, you can’t deny.
    So show me one of these inalienable rights that the government doesn’t allow. And if you find one, it proves my point that it is the government that gives the right. Because otherwise you would just have it. It’s a nice phrase that doesn’t mean anything really. Because the government has always stopped people from having rights if it pleases.
    The founders were very good at making vague phrases that can be interpreted in many ways. Freedom of the press, except when the government deems it necessary to stop it. Freedom from unreasonable search, thrown away by stop and frisk or the ‘war on terror’. If these were really inalienable rights, the government couldn’t take them away, now could they?

    • The re-read of your post was interesting. It’s a sad way of looking at your life in a supposed free country. How do you go on – needing permission to do anything that is yours by right? It does feel like that sometimes I guess since we’re looking more like a police state.

  9. You seem to be assigning power to the supreme court that does not exist – having the authority to interpret and rule on constitutional issues does not equate to having the power to grant rights. They only deal with current law and interpret the constitution as it currently exists, they don’t make or pass new law nor do they amend the constitution. That is the role of the legislative branch and the states. Here is a link to a site that explains their role – you may want to read:

  10. So exactly what rights don’t you have that you demand? The right to discriminate? The right to hurt someone else? Our government derives it’s powers from the people, therefore rights come from them. The people who wrote the constitution set up what they thought of as rights back then, in the era of what was considered progressive at the time. As we have made progress, new rights have been added as being understood to have come from that constitution.
    Quite frankly my ideas of what rights are are far greater than yours, since you and Mr Carson would deny rights to others. Which is why, liberals have always been at the fore fight for rights for the people. If we followed what conservatives think of as rights, we were have no women voting and jim crow the law of the land. And you say that my view is the police state?
    After all I am the one advocating for more rights for more people, which you would deny. You aren’t fighting for anyone’s rights, you oppose them. Sorry, you fail completely. No one has the right to hurt another.

    • Exactly where do I suggest I want or even suggest the right to hurt others? In fact, I stated on 1/24 – just above your 1/23 comment exactly what I believe and it’s the opposite of what you state. I don’t think you know what a right is – even if it bit you in the ass. Keep trying though – you’ll eventually get somewhere worth while.

      • Right and I keep asking you what are our ‘inalienable rights are and you haven’t answered yet. You just keep insisting that the government has no right to give us rights. So who does? Because I haven’t seen any god come down and say this is a right or not for the US. And since we don’t use the bible to determine rights, that is out. So again what are inalienable rights. Sounds great, means nothing. There are only rights that come from the government that we agreed on. And the constitution is what we agreed on and the courts get to decide what the constitution means. And what rights it grants.
        The will of the people means nothing when it comes to rights unless they make a change in the constitution.

      • And yes you are saying that one of the rights you want is to be able to hurt people. When you keep saying the will of the people, you are saying that their will is a right to discriminate and thus hurt some minority. That is what state rights mean in these arguments. It is saying that we don’t like certain people and we will deny them whatever rights we feel like denying them.
        The founders had this to say about the will of the people. The people are unruly tyrannical mobs that would crush any minority they didn’t like. That was what they thought of the will of the people. It is one of the reasons why we have a republic instead of a full democracy. They didn’t even want to give the people the right to vote, originally it was only going to be the educated who could.
        They wanted a constitution that protected the minorities from those majorities you keep using. Now their constitution is flawed in that regard because it really didn’t work that way for minorities. In fact the history of the US has been the ‘will of the people’ denying rights to anyone they dislike. And the courts move very slowly in protecting minorities from the will of the people.
        However, soon straight white males will be a minority. And if you want to insist that the ‘will of the people’ can deny rights to others, then we can choose to take away rights from straight white males, such as the right to marry, etc. Such would be justice for all the harm that their ‘will of the people’ has harmed people.

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