Constitution Expert: Tea Party Members, Conservatives Are ‘Getting The Constitution Wrong’

Aug 22, 2011 5:44pm


ABC News’ Sherisse Pham (@sherisse) reports: Political gaffes on the campaign trail have been plentiful lately. Most recently, Rick Perry called Ben Bernanke’s actions at the Federal Reserve “near treasonous.” And there was Michele Bachmann saying a 9-year-old John Quincy Adams worked hard tirelessly to end slavery. And don't forget Herman Cain confusing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. 

Let’s zoom in on that last one.
“A lot of the people talking about the Constitution — Tea Partiers, and their allies — out on the campaign trail are simply getting the Constitution wrong,” Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel to the Constitutional Accountability Center, told ABC's 'Top Line' today.

Not all Constitution gaffes are created equal, however. Wydra said Cain's was the most egregious one, and he was not the only one to mix up his historical documents.

“We had a series of Tea Party leaders, from Rush Limbaugh, to John Boehner, to Herman Cain, hold up a copy of the Constitution, and then quote language from the Declaration of Independence,” said Wydra.

“When you wrap yourself in the Constitution and claim to be quoting from it, you should probably actually be reading from the Constitution itself.”

Wydra said every time someone on the campaign trail talks about the Constitution, “a little red flag should go up.”

Test your Constitution knowledge.

The Tea Party favors small government, and Wydra said members of the conservative movement use the Constitution to bolster their cause. 

“There’s been this myth promoted out there that the founders created a weak central government, but the truth is we tried that in the pre-Constitution Articles of Confederation, and it was a massive failure,” said Wydra.

So is anyone on the stump properly interpreting the Constitution?

“It’s hard to find someone who is a Constitutional conservative getting it right,” said Wydra.

“One thing I find really disturbing in all of this 10th Amendment, nullification, secessionist talk that’s been going out there is that a lot of people also want to scrap many of the Constitutional Amendments,” Wydra continued.

It was “genius” of the founding fathers to add the amendment process, said Wydra, because they are what make the Constitution the “great document” that it is today.

“If you support the constitution, support the whole constitution.”


User Comments

“The Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) is a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution’s text and history.”
Constitutional expert?
Are you kidding me?
This is a progressive spin center, thats it.
So… According to Wydra, the founders were geniuses for including an amendment process.
What about the REPEAL process?
The ability to scrap amendments to the constitution are just as important, no?
The tenth amendment indeed does limit federal reach.

Posted by: the truth | August 22, 2011, 6:52 pm 6:52 pm

These TeaVangelicals have a real mission: Replace civil law with Biblical Law. Whatever THAT is.
If parts of the Constitution get in the way, heck, just scrap them. Or better yet, set yourself up as a Tea Pot dictator over an entire state like Florida.
“Take my country back” – to where? 6,000 years ago when the earth was created?

Posted by: green.goddess | August 22, 2011, 8:14 pm 8:14 pm

The CAC is a Liberal front puching a Liberal agenda.
“Progressive” is another word for “Liberal” so she is trying desperately to connect Liberals with the Constitution.
Wydra states ,”We had a series of Tea Party leaders, from Rush Limbaugh, to John Boehner, to Herman Cain, hold up a copy of The Constitution, and then quote language from the Declaration of Independence.”
Liberals are desperate to attach someone to the Tea Party as a leader in to discredit the whole movement by discrediting one person.
Rush Limbaugh is a powerful voice with an anti-Liberal, Pro-Conservative message. On a daily basis he explains how Liberalism is wrong with facts. So Liberals, like Wydra, need to lie about him because the truth is not on their side. Hey Wydra, show me where Rush Limbaugh ever held up the Constitution and quoted the Declaration of Independence. Also, show me where John Boehner did too. Herman Cain made this mistake and so like a typical Liberals Wydra tries to say this is very common with all Conservatives and the Tea Party.

Posted by: Eric | August 22, 2011, 9:06 pm 9:06 pm

The Tea Party is disgraceful in its lack of knowledge of American History. They even misnamed themselves: what they are trying to do has absolutely nothing with what the brave colonial patriots who threw tea into Boston Harbor were fighting about. what the Te Party really is is a recreation of the Anti Federalist party that tried to scuttle the idea of a central government. Some of them should buy copies of the Anti-Federalist papers and the Federalist Papers, written primarily by Alexander Hamilton. There were serious differences of opinion about the role of a central government. Fortunately, the Federalists won most of the debates, and that’s how we got the Constitution as it exists today. Thank God, none of the Tea Partiers had any power in the 1930′s, because a weakened central government could have cost us World War II, or delayed our winning the war by several years. I suspect that most TPer’s have not read any American History since it was a required course in middle or Junior High School. And certainly, none of them could pass a Freshman Econ Course in any decent college in the country. They remind me of the “Know Nothing” Party of the late 1800′s, who called themselves the “American Party”, but answered “I know nothing”, as a matter of party policy, when asked about the party’s plank. IN the case of the TP, however, they really don’t know anything, and like George Bush, they are one dimensional thinkers. Remember Bush’s Mission Accomplished banner? These TP members and ATR pledge signers can’t see beyond the ends of their fingers. We used to say that a little more crudely when I served in the Navy a half century ago, but these posts have language decency rules.BTW, the whole business of mixing up documents is kind of trivial, compared to Republican policies on health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the idea that tax increases kill jobs. I served as the Chief Financial Officer of several successful companies that grew,over a 25 year period, and the Republican statement that taxes kill jobs is a canard – a big fat lie to try and make points with a lot of other people who know virtually nothing about economics. Dwight Eisenhower, the best Republican President of the 20th century, referred to that kind of behavior as pandering, which could give a whole new translation of the GOP acronym (at least the “P” part.

Posted by: sadexrep | August 23, 2011, 1:23 am 1:23 am

This liberal hack offers no proof of anyone holding the Constitution and citing the DoI. NONE! Just her word on it.
The worst part is our board nannygoats, the regular head-in-sand liberals (we know who they are) will buy her crap as documented fact.

Posted by: Angie | August 23, 2011, 12:12 pm 12:12 pm

I agree most Tea Party Republicans are just a bunch of mudslingers who hide behind the Constitution (so they say), but my only objection to this article was the statement: “‘It’s hard to find someone who is a Constitutional conservative getting it right,’ said Wydra.” What about Ron Paul? He has been a Constitutional conservative before it was popularized by the Tea Party who only claim to live by the Constitution. This is another example of how Ron Paul is not given the recognition he deserves by media.

Posted by: John | August 24, 2011, 12:11 pm 12:11 pm