Mike Huckabee has long since dropped any pretense of being a kinder and gentler social conservative. Any doubt that the former Arkansas governor is, at bottom, no different from more sinister Christianists like Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson has been blown away during his recent stops in Iowa. On Thursday, just days after declaring that a nuclear deal with Iran would send Israel to “the door of the oven,” he hinted that if he’s elected, he will unilaterally declare abortion illegal–and may deploy federal troops and the FBI to enforce that edict.
At a pizza restaurant in Jefferson, west of Des Moines, a reporter asked Huckabee about the recent flareup over Planned Parenthood’s supposed sale of fetal body parts–a flareup generated by a hatchet-job video that amounted to libeling Planned Parenthood’s medical services chief. Huckabee replied that if he becomes president, he will “invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendments for the protection of every human being.” He added that the Supreme Court was wrong to cite the right to privacy in Roe v. Wade, saying that “privacy doesn’t allow you to take a life.”
Huckabee openly admitted such a move would touch off “a huge controversy,” but claimed science is on his side. He claimed recent scientific advancements prove fetuses are human beings after all. In light of this development, Huckabee feels he can’t “pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this.” He doubled down in an interview with The Topeka Capital-Journal, saying that “all American citizens should be protected.”
This is easily the most extreme statement on abortion that I’ve ever heard from a presidential candidate. In essence, Huckabee aped the arguments of the personhood movement. If Huckabee had his way, a fetus would have the rights of a person from the moment of conception–even though the great majority of babies can survive outside the womb if born at the 24-week mark at the earliest. But Huckabee really outdid himself when Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi asked him if he would deploy the National Guard or FBI to shut down abortion clinics. Huckabee’s response? “We’ll see when I’m president.”
When Jesse Choper, a professor emeritus of public law at the University of California-Berkeley, heard about this, he was stunned. To his mind, Huckabee’s argument was “way off-base” and was at least as loony as some of Donald Trump’s rantings on the stump. Choper suggested that Huckabee “more carefully examine” his suggestion that he would defy the Supreme Court, calling it “totally unprecedented.”
My longtime friend Steve Benen of the MaddowBlog puts it more succinctly–if Huckabee makes good on his threat, it would touch off a constitutional crisis. Benen isn’t all that surprised that Huckabee has all but announced he would defy the Supreme Court. In the past, Huckabee has spewed the right-wing shibboleth that the Supreme Court does not have the final say on what is constitutional.
Gee–I thought that Huckabee and his other far-right compatriots were wringing their hands at President Obama being a dictator who has no regard for the Constitution or the rule of law. But if a president were to unilaterally deploy the National Guard and the FBI to stop abortions, I’d really like to know how that wouldn’t be the act of a dictator.
Granted, Huckabee is fighting for a spot in the Republican clown car, though most polls show him in fairly good shape to make the first primary debate. But it says a lot about the state of the GOP when a presidential candidate can not only openly embrace personhood, but even suggest he’s considering the use of federal troops to defy the Supreme Court.