QUOTE OF THE DAY…. One of the odd rhetorical labels that’s popped up in recent years is “constitutional conservative.” Its meaning can vary a bit, but it’s generally used by far-right zealots who believe fealty to the Constitution requires eliminating most of the American political advances of the 20th century.
But there are a few problems with these folks’ ideology. For one thing, “constitutional conservatives” don’t seem especially interesting in conserving the Constitution — they’ve talked about repealing or altering several existing constitutional amendments, and then adding plenty of new ones.
For another, some of these “constitutional conservatives” don’t seem to have any idea what’s in the Constitution they claim to revere. Take last night’s debate in Delaware, for example, between Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R).
Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”
“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.
When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”
Did I mention that the debate was held in a law school?
Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone told the AP afterwards, “You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp” among those in attendance.
Erin Daly, an expert in constitutional law at Widener, added, “She seemed genuinely surprised that the principle of separation of church and state derives from the First Amendment, and I think to many of us in the law school that was a surprise.”
It’s only a surprise if one assumes that the Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate is a functioning, coherent adult.
For the record, the first 16 words of the First Amendment read, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thomas Jefferson said the Founding Fathers adopted this language, “thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
The right has been trying to take a sledgehammer to that wall for quite a while, but thankfully, it’s still standing, Christine O’Donnell’s ridiculous worldview notwithstanding.