‘Constitutional conservatism’ is clearly the wrong name

‘CONSTITUTIONAL CONSERVATISM’ IS CLEARLY THE WRONG NAME…. Yesterday, we talked about incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and his support for a constitutional amendment that would allow states to overturn federal laws they don’t like.

Today, Dana Milbank notes that Cantor isn’t the only one with radical constitutional ideas.

Republicans gained control of the House last month on a promise to “restore the Constitution.” So it is no small irony that one of their first orders of business is an attempt to rewrite the Constitution.

On Tuesday, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a member of the House GOP’s majority transition committee, introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow a group of states to nullify federal laws with which they disagree.

“This repeal amendment gives states a weapon, a tool, an arrow in their quiver,” he told a group of state legislators assembled at the Hyatt in downtown Washington. Of course, states have fired similar arrows before, and it led to a Civil War and Jim Crow — but Bishop wasn’t going to get into that.

That might sound like amusing snark from Milbank, but it’s worth emphasizing that he happens to be literally right. Republicans aren’t just endorsing bizarre legal concepts; they’re also advocating constitutional concepts that were discredited generations ago.

And yet, Republicans have ambitious plans when it comes to the Constitution. During the campaign, we heard from a variety of bizarre candidates, many of whom won, who talked about scrapping the 17th Amendment, repealing the 16th Amendment, getting rid of at least one part of the 14th Amendment, “restoring” the “original” 13th Amendment, and proposing dozens of new amendments.

Similarly, these same officials intend to radically transform the country as we currently know it, identifying bedrocks of society, and declaring them not just wrong, but literally unconstitutional.

There are a variety of labels for all of this. “Constitutional conservatism” shouldn’t be one of them.