At a radio forum sponsored by the anti-abortion and anti-birth control group Personhood USA, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that he would refuse to obey a Supreme Court decision striking down the group’s signature anti-choice proposal:
QUESTION: You have agreed to “endorse legislation making clear that Fourteenth Amendment protections apply to unborn children” . . . . What happens if the U.S. Supreme Court attempts to strike down this legislation, and replace it with one of its own edict denying the inalienable right to life for all persons born or unborn? Would you enforce the inalienable right to life or the Court’s opinion as the law?
PERRY: Well, obviously you enforce the right to life opinion.
Perry’s promise to openly defy the Supreme Court is disturbing, but it is also far from original. Fellow candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have also pledged to treat binding Supreme Court opinions as if they were merely optional, and Gingrich even supports legitimizing his radical view of the Constitution through a campaign of intimidation against judges who disagree with him.
Nevertheless, the GOP’s burgeoning love affair with Jim Crowesque defiance of the judiciary is very strange, considering that activist judging is the backbone of their policy agenda. Republicans almost universally support the ridiculous idea that the Affordable Care Act should be tossed out by the Supreme Court, and their presidential candidates have almost unanimously promised to appoint more justices modeled after the ones that authorized unlimited corporate money in American elections. If President Perry has the power to flout Supreme Court decisions that he disagrees with, there’s nothing preventing President Obama from ignoring the Supreme Court’s clearly erroneous opinion in Citizens United.
But, of course, such an attack on the Roberts Court’s misguided opinion would run headlong into the GOP’s first rule about interpreting the Constitution — the Constitution says whatever you want it to say, so long as it’s conservative.