FILE - In this July 18, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. As next month’s first GOP 2016 presidential debate looms, prospects are doing everything they can to improve their polling and chin themselves into a top 10 position to meet the criteria set by Fox News Channel to appear on stage Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Rick Perry is waging a one-man war on Donald Trump’s credibility, calling the bombastic billionaire “a cancer on conservatism.” Santorum, a conservative icon, popped up on a favorite program of liberals, the Rachel Maddow Show. And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham set his phone on fire.(AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (AP)

Rick Santorum spars with Chris Matthews over the history of Supreme Court defiance

Judicial review as established by Marbury vs. Madison, Santorum argued post-debate, is "not accepted by history"

Sophia Tesfaye
September 17, 2015 7:55PM (UTC)

Immediately following the so-called "JV debate," second-tier Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum sat down with MSNBC's Chris Matthews for a lively session of "Hardball" over Santorum's extreme position on same-sex marriage and more illuminatingly, his absurd stance on judicial review.

After airing a clip of Santorum arguing on CNN's debate stage that the Supreme Court decision overturning state bans on same-sex marriage is invalid because "judicial supremacy is not in the Constitution," Matthews reminded the former Pennsylvania senator that they had both lived their lives with "landmark decision from the Supreme Court ... many of them with a 5-4 decision" before and the sky hadn't fallen.


Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education and a decision on prayers in public schools, Matthews offered, were all examples of closely decided cases that were controversial at the time but that now remain rule of law.

Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott, Santorum cited in retort, arguing that that president of the United States has a duty to stand up to the Supreme Court when he disagrees with the constitutionality of their rulings.

"The point is courts get it wrong sometime," Santorum explained. The court is but one of three co-equal branches of government not "the superior branch of government," Santorum argued, rejecting the power of judicial review established by the historic Marbury v. Madison decision.


"The Supreme Court says we get the final say," Santorum exclaimed incredulously, knocking the Madison decision.

"Accepted throughout history," Matthews pointed out.

"Not accepted by history," Santorum insisted, shaking his head in disagreement.

Watch the full exchange, via MSNBC:


Santorum And Graham Go Head-To-Head In Kids' Table Debate

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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