October 23, 2010

Teabaggers = Constitutional hypocrites

America’s Holy Writ

Tea Party evangelists claim the Constitution as their sacred text. Why that’s wrong.

By Andrew RomanoContemporary Constitution worshipers claim that they’ve distilled their entire political platform—lower taxes, less regulation, minimal federal government—directly from the original text of the founding document. Any overlap with mainstream conservatism is incidental, they say; they’re simply following the Framers’ precise instructions. If this were true, it would be quite the political coup: oppose us, the Tea Party could claim, and you’re opposing James Madison. But the reality is that Tea Partiers engage with the Constitution in such a selective manner, and for such nakedly political purposes, that they’re clearly relying on it more as an instrument of self-affirmation and cultural division than a source of policy inspiration.

In legal circles, constitutional fundamentalism is nothing new. For decades, scholars and judges have debated how the founding document should factor into contemporary legal proceedings. Some experts believe in a so-called living Constitution—a set of principles that, while admirable and enduring, must be interpreted in light of present-day social developments in order to be properly upheld. Others adhere to originalism, which is the idea that the ratifiers’ original meaning is fixed, knowable, and clearly articulated in the text of the Constitution itself.

While conservatives generally prefer the second approach, many disagree over how it should be implemented—including the Supreme Court’s most committed originalists, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Thomas sympathizes with a radical version of originalism known as the Constitution in Exile. In his view, the Supreme Court of the 1930s unwisely discarded the 19th-century’s strict judicial limits on Federal power, and the only way to resurrect the “original” Constitution—and regain our unalienable rights—is by rolling back the welfare state, repealing regulations, and perhaps even putting an end to progressive taxation. In contrast, Scalia is willing to respect precedent—even though it sometimes departs from his understanding of the Constitution’s original meaning.
And:Tea Partiers tend to sound more like Thomas than Scalia. Every weekday on Fox News, Glenn Beck—“the most highly regarded individual among Tea Party supporters,” according to a recent poll—takes to his schoolroom chalkboard to rail against progressives like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. “They knew they had to separate us from our history,” he says, “to be able to separate us from our Constitution and God.” In Beck’s view, progressives forsook the faithful Christian Founders and forced the country to adopt a slew of unconstitutional measures that triggered our long decline into Obama-era totalitarianism: the Federal Reserve System, Social Security, the graduated federal income tax. True patriots, according to Beck, favor a pre-progressive vision of the United States. When Nevada Senate nominee Sharron Angle says we need to “phase out” Social Security and Medicare; when Alaska Senate nominee Joe Miller asserts that unemployment benefits are “unconstitutional”; when West Virginia Senate nominee John Raese declares that the minimum wage should “absolutely” be abolished; when Kentucky Senate nominee Rand Paul questions the legality of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; when Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claims that Obama’s new health-insurance law violates the Constitution; and when various Tea Party candidates say they want to repeal the amendments that triggered the federal income tax and the direct election of senators—this is the vision they’re promoting. At times, the Tea Party can seem like a popularized, politicized offshoot of the Constitution in Exile movement.Comment: Scalia's willingness to bend his "principles" for the sake of precedence just means he's more hypocritical than Thomas. Thomas may be a porn-obsessed liar, but at least his judicial views are consistent. Stupid and wrong, but consistent.

Here's how to tell if teabaggers are sincere about wanting to return to the original Constitution. Tell them the following:Some Founding Fathers said President Jefferson didn't have the constitutional authority to execute the Louisiana Purchase. Therefore, let's go back to a "limited" Constitution and give the land back to the Indians. Is that okay with you, teabaggers? That is what you believe, right?If you're not clear what the Founding Fathers thought about the Louisiana Purchase, here's some info:

Louisiana Purchase
Jefferson disliked the idea of purchasing Louisiana from France as that could imply that France had a right to be in Louisiana. Jefferson believed that a U.S. President did not have the authority to make such a deal: it was not specified in the Constitution. He also thought that to do so would erode states' rights by increasing federal executive power.

The American purchase of the Louisiana territory was not accomplished without domestic opposition. Jefferson's philosophical consistency was in question because of his strict interpretation of the Constitution. Many people believed he was being hypocritical by doing something he surely would have argued against with Alexander Hamilton. The Federalists strongly opposed the purchase, favoring close relations with Britain over closer ties to Napoleon, believing the purchase to be unconstitutional, and concerned that the U.S. had paid a large sum of money just to declare war on Spain. The United States House of Representatives also opposed the purchase.
Like Scalia has done so often, Jefferson violated his principles for the sake of expediency. A strict interpretation of the Constitution would invalidate the Louisiana Purchase. So teabaggers who want to undo Social Security and the income tax should denounce the Purchase also.

More decisions to invalidate

Heck, the Marshall trilogy of Supreme Court cases are the essence of overreaching judicial activism. These cases fabricated the concept of Indian tribes as "domestic protected nations" rather than foreign nations. This fabrication was based on another fabrication, the Doctrine of Discovery, which said Indians didn't own the land they owned.

So believing in a limited Constitution also means restoring full sovereignty to Indian tribes, treating them as foreign nations, and permitting them to negotiate treaties with the US again. Am I right, Con Law experts? Yes, I think I am.

When the first teabagger says he's willing to return to an 18th-century view of the Constitution--which would mean invalidating the Marshall trilogy, the Louisiana Purchase, and other anti-Indian decisions--then I'll believe he's sincere. Until then, every teabagger who claims to believe in a "limited" Constitution is some combination of liar, hypocrite, and idiot.

For more on the subject, see Tea Party Guide to American History and What "I Want My Country Back" Means.

Below: The unconstitutional expansion of US borders.

1 comment:

SCJ said...

I agree that teabaggers have a seriously warped view the U.S. Constitution and history.

Let's see, the minimum wage, medicare, social security, and the separation of church and state are all unconstitutional in TeaLand