Republican presidential candidate former New York Governor George Pataki commented on Rowan County, KY clerk Kim Davis refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses during Wednesday’s first card debate on CNN.
Pataki stated, “Yes, Kim Davis is different from Islamist radicals from the Middle East. But on the other hand, we have one rule of law in America, and an elected official can’t say that, ‘I’m not going to follow that law if it conflicts with my beliefs.’ I think she should have been fired, and if she had worked for me, I would have fired her. We have to uphold the rule of law. Imagine one minute, Jake, imagine one minute, that was a Muslim, who said that, ‘I don’t believe in gay marriage,’ and refused to perform that wedding, we wouldn’t have had that outrage. There is a place where the religion supersedes the rule of law. It’s called Iran. It shouldn’t be the United States.”
After fellow candidate former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum took issue with Pataki’s response, Pataki stated, “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 cut in, “I hope so. If they’re wrong.” Pataki countered, “Then you don’t have the rule of law.” Santorum then said, “No, what you have is judicial supremacy. You don’t have the rule of law when the court has the final say on everything.”
Pataki answered, “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 beliefs 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.”
After Santorum invoked Martin Luther King Jr. and said, “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 argued back, “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.”
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