12/02/2011 01:41 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012

The Huckabee Forum: A Constitutional Challenge

On tomorrow night’s edition of "Huckabee" on Fox News, the former governor will host at least five of the GOP candidates for president for a discussion about their respective campaigns and governing philosophies.   

I sent the following letter to Governor Huckabee today urging him to ensure that a genuine and thoughtful conversation about the Constitution and our civil liberties takes center stage. 

December 2, 2011

Governor Mike Huckabee

Fox News Channel

1211 Avenue Of The Americas, Floor 18

New York, New York 10036-8705

Dear Governor Huckabee,

As defenders of the Constitution and civil liberties, the ACLU is eager to watch the Republican candidate forum on Huckabee tomorrow night.

Some of us have even cancelled dates!

Many of the candidates you and the panelists will interview have proudly invoked the Constitution as the foundation of their governing philosophies. And yet, the same candidates often take positions that betray basic constitutional principles. They've rarely been asked to explain themselves.

Maybe Saturday night will be different.

On your website, you promise the forum will have a substantive format, without any “gotcha stuff.” We share your distaste for all that — and your yearning for a more thoughtful, meaningful exchange of ideas at a difficult time in American life.

In that vein, we hope you and the panelists will stop the candidates from playing "gotcha" with the Constitution. Simply invoking the Constitution’s name to justify a policy position doesn't cut it for a President. Nor should it cut it for a candidate. A thoughtful explanation, based on American law and values is what we need.

We hope you'll consider asking the candidates about:

Equality — We often hear the candidates invoke the Tenth Amendment and the powers reserved to the states. But "states' rights" does not mean "abracadabra." States' rights don't erase Constitutional principles that protect individual rights — including the freedom to choose, the freedom to vote, and the right to an education regardless of citizenship.

Torture — Waterboarding is torture. The Constitution says so. The Geneva Conventions say so. Republican war heroes like Colin Powell and John McCain say so. But some candidates disagree. They should help us understand why.

National Security — Domestic spying and indefinite detention without trial violate basic American values. Yet they don't appear to violate some candidates' sense of decency. We hope they’ll tell us more.

Immigration — A fair, legal and humane immigration system means adhering to constitutional values of due process and equal treatment under the law -- not adopting a punitive national ID system or accepting racial profiling as the price of fighting crime. We hope you’ll discuss.

Governor Huckabee, we've turned down the lights, turned up the volume and ordered the pizza. We hope you'll do your part, too.


Anthony Romero

Executive Director, ACLU