s skippy the bush kangaroo: strong constitution, weak tea

skippy the bush kangaroo

Sunday, October 17, 2010

strong constitution, weak tea

newsweek on how the tea baggers get the constitution wrong:
over the years critics have lodged dozens of objections to originalism—the disagreements among the founders; the preservation of slavery in the final product; the inclusion of an amendment process—and they apply to the tea party’s interpretation of the constitution, too. but at least originalism is a rational, consistent philosophy. the real problem with the tea party’s brand of constitution worship isn’t that it’s too dogmatic. it’s that it isn’t dogmatic enough. in recent months, tea party candidates have behaved in ways that belie their public commitment to combating progressivism. they’ve backed measures that blatantly contradict their originalist mission. and they’ve frequently misunderstood or misrepresented the constitution itself. in may, for example, paul told a russian television station that america “should stop” automatically granting citizenship to the native-born children of illegal immigrants. turns out his suggestion would be unconstitutional, at least according to the 14th amendment (1868) and a pair of subsequent supreme court decisions. a few weeks later, paul said he’d like to prevent federal contractors from lobbying congress—a likely violation of their first amendment right to redress. in july, alaska’s miller told abc news that unemployment benefits are not “constitutionally authorized.” reports later revealed that his wife claimed unemployment in 2002.

the list goes on. most tea partiers claim that the 10th amendment, which says “the powers not delegated” to the federal government are “reserved to the states,” is proof that the framers would’ve balked at today’s bureaucracy. what they don’t mention is that james madison refused a motion to add the word “expressly” before “delegated” because “there must necessarily be admitted powers by implication.” in last week’s delaware senate debate, o’donnell was asked to name a recent supreme court case she disagreed with. “oh, gosh,” she stammered, unable to cite a single piece of evidence to support her constitution in exile talking points. “i know that there are a lot, but, uh, i’ll put it up on my web site, i promise you.” angle has said that “government isn’t what our founding fathers put into the constitution”—even though establishing a federal government with the “power to lay and collect taxes” to “provide for the common defence and general welfare” is one of the main reasons the founders created a constitution to replace the weak, decentralized articles of confederation. in 2008 palin told katie couric that the constitution does, in fact, guarantee “an inherent right to privacy,” à la roe v. wade, but added that “individual states…can handle an issue like that.” unfortunately, palin’s hypothesis would only be viable in a world without the fourteenth amendment, which gave washington sole responsibility for safeguarding all constitutional rights. then there are the proposed amendments. in the current congress, conservatives like michele bachmann have suggested more than 40 additions to the constitution: a flag-desecration amendment; a balanced-budget amendment; a “parental rights” amendment; a supermajority-to-raise-taxes amendment; anti-abortion amendment; an anti-gay-marriage amendment; and so on. none of these revisions has anything to do with the document’s original meaning.
posted by skippy at 4:53 PM |


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