Pundits and news junkies alike have much to be grateful for in the present election cycle, as candidates like Ben Carson seem poised to keep things interesting. Indeed, Carson raised eyebrows this weekend in an interview with Fox News Sunday when he explicitly suggested that the President of the United States is not bound by decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. CNN and other news outlets posted summaries of the interview online.
“It is an open question. It needs to be discussed,” Carson said to interviewer Chris Wallace of the relationship between the executive and judicial branches. “… I have said this is an area that we need to discuss, we need to get into a discussion of this because it has changed from the original intent.”
Carson further expounded on his position regarding the separation of powers, noting that laws are provided by the legislative branch and not by the judiciary.
The balance of power between American branches of government dates back to 1803, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Marbury vs. Madison. Although a serious rift between the executive and judicial branches developed at the height of the Watergate scandal, the Nixon administration ultimately complied with the orders of Supreme Court — for the most part, anyway — averting a constitutional crisis.
For his part, Carson seems more than willing to go down the very path of such a crisis once more if it leads to a substantive re-evaluation of the key functions of government in America.
Carson’s recent musings on the Supreme Court aren’t his only controversial interpretations of American government thus far. In January, well before he announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential race, Carson asserted that Congress has discretion to decide whether or not Federal judges “carry out their duties in an appropriate way.” In their coverage of Carson’s comments, Forbes noted that he was fundamentally incorrect in his assessment of Congressional authority, explaining that “Congress has the right to remove judges when they commit impeachable offenses, defined by the Constitution as treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
To be sure, Carson’s ideological holdings seem to factor prominently in his interpretation of relationships between branches of government and he is not terribly shy about this. Both of the above-noted discussions occurred in the context of Carson’s position on same-sex marriage. Carson has noted that he opposes such unions, both on principles related to his political interpretations of government as well as his personal religious beliefs. Carson also believes that America’s tax code should follow biblical guidelines, as previously noted by Inquisitr.
It’s intriguing to note Carson’s specific, seemingly faith-inspired, choice of words in his discussion with Wallace regarding Supreme Court decisions. Bustle notes that Carson specifically refers to “judicial laws,” a term that is generally associated with the Levitical laws of the Old Testament. According to Cross Examined, “judicial laws” refer specifically to cultural laws of the past and that “moral law,” or “God’s law,” is the only law that is applicable in the present day.
Whether or not Ben Carson’s unorthodox interpretations of the United States Constitution — which, by many accounts appears to be closely associated with his faith — ultimately resonate with a majority of voters remains to be seen. Americans will have a lot of data to sift through in the lengthy and hectic primary season ahead. In a political landscape that will surely become marred by missteps, gaffes, and controversies in due time, the best roadmap to the polls for candidates and constituents alike might well prove to be a simple high school civics textbook.
[Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]