Friday, September 11, 2015

Schooling Mike Huckabee on the history of the Dred Scott decision

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 5:45 PM

click to enlarge THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR: Arm in arm with Kim Davis?
  • THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR: Arm in arm with Kim Davis?
At the Daily Beast, author Todd Brewster, who last year wrote a book about Abraham Lincoln and the history of the Emancipation Proclamation, takes Mike Huckabee to task over his conflation of resistance to same-sex marriage with resistance to the Dred Scott decision, the pre-Civil War ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which denied black Americans citizenship.

It's morally absurd to make Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis out to be Abraham Lincoln, of course (which is the context of Huckabee's remarks). But it's hard to argue with deeply held beliefs that define non-heterosexual relationships as wicked. Instead of the moral argument, Brewster focuses on history to point out why Huckabee's claims are incorrect:

While it is true that Lincoln found the Court’s decision in Dred Scott an abomination, the 16th president recognized that it was the law of the land and that he was obliged to follow it. Furthermore, the [Emancipation Proclamation] was not, as Huckabee would have you believe, in contradiction to the Court’s ruling. In fact, in what must have struck Lincoln as a delicious irony, he indirectly relied upon Dred as a justification for his power to issue it.

Dred Scott defined African Americans as property, not citizens. Lincoln, resourceful lawyer that he was, therefore "asserted the act of emancipation was undertaken only as a 'military necessity' commensurate with his power to seize enemy property of any kind; human property in this case being no different from non-human property like military hardware, supplies, or rations."

Yes, Brewster says, Lincoln and his lieutenants relied on some tortured legal logic to get from the proclamation to the 13th and 14th amendments. But it's inaccurate to portray that as defiance of law.

Here's a solution for Huckabee:

Now that same amendment, ratified in 1868, is the basis of the ruling last term on same-sex marriages, and the [county] clerk, Kim Davis, should properly be forced to comply just as Lincoln had to comply with Dred. If Mike Huckabee finds that offensive, he has an opportunity to do something about it. He can get himself elected president and then, like Lincoln, appoint an attorney general and Supreme Court justices who will read the Constitution the way that he reads it.

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