The Corner

Huck for AIDS Quarantine in 1992

The AP is running a story about a candidate survey completed by Mike Huckabee in 1992, when he was ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Dale Bumpers. According to the story, Huckabee wrote the following in response to a question about AIDS policy:

If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague . . .

It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

Assuming the survey response excerpts reported by the AP are representative, and not taken out of a mitigating context, this is a pretty outrageous position for Huckabee to have held at the time. This was not the early 1980s, when the threat posed by the HIV virus was poorly understood. Rather it was 1992, long after it was understood that AIDS could not be transmitted through casual contact. So either Huckabee was woefully ignorant about the nature of AIDS, or he supported a quarantine despite the lack of a threat of communicability. Neither interpretation speaks well of him.

Also of potential note, Huckabee then argued that the federal government should not spend so much on AIDS research, particularly in comparison to other diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Rather, Huckabee suggested, Hollywood celebrities who call for AIDS funding should open their own wallets. Today, however, Huckabee is calling for increased AIDS research, and says his administration “will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States.” Huckabee also wrote that “

Again, let me note that the AP story does not include the full text of the survey or Huckabee’s responses. The questionnaire reportedly included over 200 questions, so it may contain other interesting material.

Editor’s note.

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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