Things About the US Constitution That Conservatives Do Not Absolutely Adore

  • The 14th Amendment, which guarantees children of immigrants (like me!) US citizenship. The opposition to this amendment is one of the darkest and most obviously racist aspects of the Tea Party agenda. In addition to being wrong-headed, it’s poor political strategy in a world in which the number of immigrant children is large and growing. You can try to control or suppress that population if you want, but good luck with that.
  • Another part of the 14th amendment states that “the validity of public debts of the United States…shall not be questioned.” This means that Congress can’t add to the debt and then later refuse to raise the debt limit, as the Republican Congress threatened to do last year. This was a staggeringly irresponsible move that demonstrated that John Boehner would happily drive our national credit rating and our economy off a cliff if it meant hurting President Obama. But in this case it’s clear that politics won out over constitutionality.
  • Voter suppression. There is only one form of meaningful electoral fraud in this country today, and it’s coming from Republican-led voter suppression initiatives across the country. These are engineered with the clear intent of disenfranchising US citizens, particularly the poor. The public officials behind them should be impeached for violating the Constitution’s ban on poll taxes.
  • The advise and consent role for political and judicial appointees. Minority Republicans in the Senate have engaged on an unprecedented and unconstitutional campaign to limit President Obama’s authority by blocking qualified political and judicial appointees. They’ve done this for reasons that go far beyond their “advise and consent” power spelled out in the Constitution — they’re doing this for political reasons, to diminish Obama’s influence over the government and to thwart the power of agencies they don’t like, such as the judiciary and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But this is not an “advise and consent” role, it’s governmental sabotage, and it’s certainly not what the Constitution envisioned.

There’s more, of course, such as the Tea Party opposition to Federalism, and on and on.

I’ve asserted for a while that when a Republican describes himself as a “constitutional originalist,” you should hide your wallet. It’s very clear that Republicans only believe in rigid adherence to the Constitution when theĀ ConstitutionĀ happens to be in alignment with their agenda.

A lot of this seems like religious demagoguery to me: using appeals to authority and ancient, poorly-understood texts to further a political agenda. Any constitution is a tool. It’s not gospel.