THE REVERENCE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL STONE FADES AWAY…. It wasn’t too long ago that Glenn Beck was sick of hearing about proposed changes to the U.S. Constitution: “We’re running it through the shredder every time somebody wants to do [with it] what they want to do…. It took these guys a long time. They read a lot of books and a lot of history to put the principles together in this thing.”
The right’s line on the Constitution has changed a bit since. While some still talk about the need for “constitutional conservatives” — a phrase that seems to be a euphemism for Tenthers — the AP notes today that Republicans are now “hot and cold on the Constitution.”
Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia won his seat in Congress campaigning as a strict defender of the Constitution. He carries a copy in his pocket and is particularly fond of invoking the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
But it turns out there are parts of the document he doesn’t care for — lots of them. He wants to get rid of the language about birthright citizenship, federal income taxes and direct election of senators, among others. He would add plenty of stuff, including explicitly authorizing castration as punishment for child rapists.
This hot-and-cold take on the Constitution is surprisingly common within the GOP, particularly among those like Broun who portray themselves as strict Constitutionalists and who frequently accuse Democrats of twisting the document to serve political aims.
Republicans have proposed at least 42 Constitutional amendments in the current Congress, including one that has gained favor recently to eliminate the automatic grant of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
I knew they’d recommended more than a few, but 42? In fairness, many of these are probably just symbolic gestures that proponents aren’t seriously pushing. Indeed, even if there were a Republican Congress, most of these 42 likely wouldn’t even get so much as a hearing, better yet a vote.
But when a small congressional minority, allegedly known for their constitutional fealty, proposed 42 amendments in one Congress, it starts to look like a party treating the document as a first draft. (In contrast, Dems have proposed 27 amendments, most of which come from one member: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois.)
And then, of course, there are also the existing amendments Republicans would like to see at least partially, if not fully, repealed. As we’ve talked about before, the new conservative agenda is focused on scrapping the 17th Amendment, repealing the 16th Amendment, getting rid of at least one part of the 14th Amendment, and “restoring” the “original” 13th Amendment.
Holding up the 2nd Amendment as sacrosanct, for example, while dismissing other parts of the Constitution is “cherry picking,” said [constitutional law scholar Mark] Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center.
Virginia Sloan, an attorney who directs the nonpartisan Constitution Project, agreed.
“There are a lot of people who obviously don’t like income taxes. That’s a political position,” she said of criticism of the 16th Amendment, which authorized the modern federal income tax more than a century ago. “But it’s in the Constitution … and I don’t think you can go around saying something is unconstitutional just because you don’t like it.”
Oh, just watch them.