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Conservatives Love the Constitution. Except When They Don’t.

Conservatives Love the Constitution. Except When They Don’t. November 30, 2011

There are few things more absurd than the right’s rhetoric about the Constitution. To hear them tell it, the Constitution was delivered to the Founding Fathers by Jesus himself at Mt. Sinai, a perfect and holy document that they nonetheless are always wanting to change.

The list of changes proposed by conservatives is very long, from the balanced budget amendment to a personhood amendment to an amendment banning same-sex marriage. And Rick Perry has a few more he’d like to add to the list:

None of the candidates, though, have gone as far as Perry, who at a speech Monday in Bettendorf, Iowa proposed limiting Supreme Court justices to 18-year terms…

But Perry also used the book to back amendments to require balance budgets, to “clarify the scope and intent of the 14th Amendment,” repealing the 16th Amendment and one to allow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote.

The anti-judicial rhetoric is particularly noxious and absurd.

“It is time to tear down the monuments to bureaucratic failure, and in their place build a smaller, more efficient federal government that puts the American people first,” Perry said. “Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench, and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority.”

That last sentence is a pure dog whistle. Phrases like “legislate from the bench” and “judicial activism” are empty catchphrases that mean nothing more than “judges ruling in ways we don’t like.” I would actually love to be able to interview Rick Perry — or any of the other candidates — and question him about how he defines such terms. He would babble like an idiot trying to come up with something coherent. And unlike all the journalists you see moderating those “debates” on television, I wouldn’t just move on to the next question. I would make him defend that position and push him on it.


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