Santorum and Jindal Defend Kim Davis

Booking photo of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis
Booking photo of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis

In the 6 p.m. debate, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal jumped to defend Kim Davis. George Pataki and Lindsey Graham? Not so much:

JAKE TAPPER: Before we took the break, you were all chomping at the bit to talk about Kim Davis, that Kentucky clerk. Governor Pataki said he would have fired Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Senator Santorum, do you agree with Governor Pataki?

RICK SANTORUM: 16 years ago, this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith and she refused to deny God. We saw her as a hero. Today, someone who refuses to defy (sic) a judge’s unconstitutional verdict is ridiculed and criticized, chastised because she’s standing up and denying — not denying her God and her faith. That is a huge difference in 16 years. People have a fundamental right in the First Amendment. There’s no more important right. It is the right that is the trunk that all other rights come from, and that’s the freedom of conscience. And when we say in America that we have no room — how many bakers, how many florists, how many pastors, how many clerks are we going to throw in jail because they stand up and say, “I cannot violate what my faith says is against its teachings”? Is there not room in America? I believe there has to be room.

First, I believe we have to pass the First Amendment Defense Act, which provides that room for government officials and others who do not want to be complicit in what they believe is against their faith. Second, we need as a president who’s going to fight a court that is abusive, that has superseded their authority. Judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution, and we need a president and a Congress to stand up to a court when it exceeds its constitutional authority.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator. Governor Pataki, your response?

GEORGE PATAKI: My response is kind of, “Wow.” You know, we’re going to have a president who defies the Supreme Court because they don’t agree?

SANTORUM: I hope so. If they’re wrong.

PATAKI: Then you don’t have the rule of law…

SANTORUM: No, what you have is judicial supremacy. You don’t have a rule of law when the court has the final say on everything.

PATAKI: The — the elected representatives of the people always have the opportunity to change that law. The Supreme Court makes a determination, but it’s ultimately the elected officials who decide whether or not that would be accepted. By the way, if I have a chance to lead this country, I will appoint judges who understand their role. They’re not going to be making the law; they’re going to be interpreting law that the elected officials passed. But there’s a huge difference between an individual standing up and saying I am going to stand for my religious freedom and my religious rights. I applaud that. This is America. You should be able to engage in your religious belief in the way you see fit. But when you are an elected official and you take an oath of office to uphold the law, all the laws, you cannot pick and choose or you no longer have a society that depends on the rule of law.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Thank you. Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: Martin Luther King wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail. And he said in that letter that there are just laws and there are unjust laws. And we have no obligation to — to condone and accept unjust laws. And he — and they — then he followed up and said what’s an unjust law? An unjust law is a job that — a law that go against the moral code or God’s law or the natural law. I would argue that what the Supreme Court did is against the natural law, it’s against God’s law and we have every obligation to stand in opposition to it.

PATAKI: Yes, I — I didn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but it is the law of this land. And I am a great admirer of Martin Luther King. And he was prepared to break the law. But it wasn’t in an office of political power. It was civil disobedience, where what he was willing to do is voluntarily go to jail with his followers to send a message to the elected representatives that these laws were wrong and had to be changed. And because of his courage, we didn’t ignore the courts, we changed the laws and made America a better place. That’s the way to do it.

TAPPER: Thank you, Governor.

BOBBY JINDAL: Jake — Jake… (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We’re coming to both of you.

JINDAL: Jake, I’ve got a practical question.

TAPPER: What…

(CROSSTALK)

JINDAL: I’ve got a practical question. I’d like the left to give us a list of jobs that Christians aren’t allowed to have. If we’re not allowed to be clerks, bakers, musicians, caterers, are we allowed to be pastors (INAUDIBLE)? We’re not allowed to be elected officials. I firmly — this is an important point. The First Amendment rights, the right to religious freedom is in the First Amendment of “The Constitution.” It isn’t breaking the law to exercise our constitutional rights. America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America. It is the reason we’re here today.

(APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: Senator Graham, do you want to weigh in?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: I wasn’t the best law student. By the end of this debate, it would be the most time I’ve ever spent in any library. But on the first day in law school view (ph), it’s called “Marbury v. Madison.” The group in our constitutional democracy that interprets “The Constitution” as to what it means is the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, they have ruled that same-sex marriage bans at the state level violate the Fourteenth Amendment to “The United States Constitution” equal protection clause. I don’t agree with it, but that is the law of the land. But as president, what I want make sure of is that everybody in this room, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever religion that you can practice your faith without government interference, you can marry people consistent with the tenets of your faith. That’s the number one obligation of my presidency, is to protect religious people when they exercise their religious rights. But this decision is the law as it is of right now. And here’s the one thing I want to tell you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

GRAHAM: Wait — wait a minute. Whether you’re the wedding cake baker or the gay couple or the Baptist preacher, radical Islam would kill you all if they could.

TAPPER: Senator…

GRAHAM: Let’s don’t lose sight of the big picture here.

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

Thomas Valentine is a researcher for APIA and a junior at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.