Friday, November 19, 2010

How'd That Work Out For The Cherokees?

Mike Huckabee claims that politicians should just ignore court decisions they don't like:

A president has certainly got to respect a ruling of the court, but if the ruling of a court is wrong, and it’s fundamentally wrong, and you have two branches of the government that determine that it’s wrong, then those other two branches supersede the one. . . . The two branches of government, legislative and executive, have every right to make it clear to the Supreme Court that their interpretation is wrong.  And whether they do that by constitutional amendment to spell it out to the court, or by passage of further amplification of law, there are many means, I think, at hand to do that.

That got me to thinking--where I have heard of this before?

Ah yes, the Trail of Tears.

In Worcester v. Georgia (1832), the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John Marshall, ruled that Georgia's laws did not extend to the Cherokees and that they had no obligation to give up their land to that state. President Andrew Jackson's response:

"John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"*

One of the greatest threats to democracy is politicians choosing to ignore the courts. If politicians stop respecting court decisions that disagree with (which of course is different than working to get those decisions overturned), then what really stops them from doing whatever they want to whoever they want? As the Cherokees found out, nothing.

*--Some sources say this is a false quote. Maybe.  But it doesn't really matter since Jackson acted upon this idea.