Abortion

Amending the 10th Amendment

Rick Perry's infidelity to the Constitution is more troubling than his fidelity to Christianity.

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Evidently Rick Perry is a Christian. But does he have to make such a big deal out of it? 

"As a nation," the governor of my state declared when he announced the prayer rally that attracted more than 30,000 people to Houston's Reliant Stadium on Saturday, "we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy." My response to The Response: No, thanks. My people have managed without Jesus for thousands of years. Why start now? 

In truth, however, I was not terribly insulted at being excluded from Perry's giant church service. Even if I drove on Saturdays, I would not have been thrilled by the idea of a four-hour trip to Houston for seven hours of hymns, prayer, fasting, and repentance. I get enough of that on Yom Kippur.

I was much more offended by the alacrity with which Perry, who is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination next Saturday, abandoned his avowed federalist principles to embrace the legislative agenda of the Christian right. It took less than a week.

"Our friends in New York," Perry told GOP donors in Aspen on July 22, "passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business."

It soon became clear that Perry, who wrote a book championing federalism, does not really believe in the 10th Amendment. In a July 28 interview, he assured Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, that he supports amending the Constitution to declare that "marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman." So much for letting states define marriage as they see fit.

Perry did a similar about-face on abortion. On July 27 he told reporters in Houston he favors overturning Roe v. Wade, which would leave states free to set their own policies in this area. "You either have to believe in the 10th Amendment or you don't," he said. "You can't believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then [for] something that doesn't suit you say, 'We'd rather not have states decide that.'"

Two days later, Perry's spokeswoman told The Houston Chronicle he "would support amending the U.S. Constitution…to protect innocent life." Most versions of the Human Life Amendment would ban abortion throughout the country, even in states that want to keep it legal.

After Saturday's rally, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, which sponsored the event, enthused that "the governor is a staunch social conservative, believing in both the sanctity of life and marriage not just as personal principles but as principles of public policy." The evidence: "He supports federal amendments to protect both the unborn and man-woman marriage."

Fischer and Perry seem to have similar ideas about constitutional fidelity. Fischer supports the First Amendment except when it comes to non-Christians, while Perry supports the 10th Amendment except wheb it comes to marriage and abortion.

Other exceptions may emerge as the presidential race proceeds. As much as I'd love to see the Republican nominee attack Barack Obama for interfering with state decisions regarding medical marijuana (which Perry also says are protected by the 10th Amendment), I don't think it's going to happen.

Perry insisted his prayer rally was apolitical, allowing that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. But the Republican primary voters who are attracted by his conspicuous Christianity will expect him to translate his religious beliefs into government policy. Those of us who would not welcome a centrally imposed, religiously inspired moral agenda can only hope Perry's promises on that score will turn out to be just as empty as his commitment to state sovereignty.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2011 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. It is interesting to see the transformation from an avowed federalist in to a Huckabee-ish SoCon right before our eyes.

  2. Perry’s avowed Tenth Amendment-States Right’s Federalism piqued my interested a few months ago. I thought that this may have been a very interesting candidate to follow. But these recent revelations have confirmed my belief that for all of the Constitution-love the Republicans talk up, it’s essentially meaningless once the Christers get involved. Fuck Perry, fuck the SoCons and fuck the Republican Party for allowing the SoCons to have such a prominent role.

  3. Thats troubling(as an atheist), but this is just down right creepy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..r_embedded

    1. Okay, that was scary. State-worship starts young. I think I can honestly repute every point on their list with one sentence:

      You want these things–but at whose expense?

      1. At the expense of the rich pigs at the top of the food chain who aren’t paying their fair 92% share, of course.

        And of course, once you put a 100% tax on Gates and Buffet and realize it would hardly put a dent in just one year’s deficit, you have to extend your definition of rich down a few notches.

        1. Bring me back, bitches!

          1. $75 is too low to add any real revenue to the gov’t, especially since people hardly land on it, anyway.

            1. I call dibs on Free Parking!

    2. For their Social Security argument: SSI is supposed to supply 1/3 of your retirement. The other 2/3 are supposed to come from saving and private pensions. Pension are very rare, and no one saves enough anymore. So people wonder when SSI doesn’t pay the bills.

      As for taxes on Teh Rich!!!1!, it’s not that they need to pay their taxes or the middle class will have to pay for them. That’s statist thinking. Reduce spending enough, and you have a surplus with current rates. But shrinking government appears to be a little too much for them.

      Public education doesn’t work. We know that. Some schools are good, but there are a lot of bad ones. Throwing more money at them hasn’t increased scores the last forty years, why will throwing more now suddenly change that? Because we have the right people in charge? Don’t make me laugh.

      I’d really like a few words with the people who told those kids what to say.

    3. Scary? That was fucking gut-wrenchingly disgusting. That’s dozens of kids who are going to grow up statists.

  4. Business as usual. As most Republicans and Democrats he believes in the Constitution as long as it supports his viewpoint. He is also obviously quite willing to use centralized federal power to make everyone conform to his moral standards. Scary stuff.

  5. Did Franklin actually say, “A theocracy, if you can keep it”? If not, we should stop referring to these ideologues as “conservatives.”

    1. Glad to see your reference to Franklin’s comment, and I hope everyone reading it will recall BF said “A REPUBLIC”, not a democracy. That’s the heart of todaay’s controversies. Senator Feinstein opened the inaugural ceremonies saying it was a “celebration of DEMOCRACY”. BHO told Ryan “we won”, as if there were no restraints on the winner in an election, no rule of law. Like a baseball umpire, it is not the business of the government to allocate runs, but to see that all play by the rules.

  6. Arrrgghhhh!!! What the hell is it with Republican politicians?!?!?! Every now and then they stumble, through no particular merit of their own, on a policy theme that makes an incredible amount of good sense and elevates them to a reasonably good chance of political success. As soon as they do, they proceed to run as far and as fast from that theme as they humanly can. When Republicans run nationally on libertarian, constitutionalist, or federalist themes, they do great. They then proceed to treat those positions as completely subordinate to socon interventionism.

  7. “Those of us who would not welcome a centrally imposed, religiously inspired moral agenda can only hope Perry’s promises on that score will turn out to be just as empty as his commitment to state sovereignty.” I agree with you on Perry’s flip-flops and I think he’d be a terrible President but aren’t any federal laws a centrally imposed moral agenda? Why should those who hold traditional religiously based moral values be excluded from the conversation? If you believe in the Ten Commandments should you be excluded from the legal conversation? Thou shalt not kill doesn’t seem like such a bad “religiously inspired moral agenda”…

    1. True, but the federal government does not define most of those kinds of crimes. Murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft…they are all crimes based on morality, but each state defines what it is and how to punish it themselves. That’s the whole point, the states should be allowed to decide these things for themselves.

    2. Personally, I’d argue that the distinction is that “Thou shalt not kill” directly involves someone outside of a person’s individual relationship with the Almighty. Hence, the problem, in my view is not that one is inspired by religion, but that said laws would impose state authority into an area that is the proper purview of the state. Whether you want to interfere with my rights and liberties because Jesus tells you to or becuase you think such interferance is noble, progressive, forward-looking advancement of our society, you’re still interfering with my rights and liberties and I still resent your intrusion.

      1. GAHHH!!!
        “into an area that is the proper purview of the state”
        should read
        “into an area that is not the proper purview of the state”

    3. Thou shalt not kill doesn’t seem like such a bad “religiously inspired moral agenda”…

      No, it’s not. But, “I am the Lord, thy God, and thou shalt have no false gods before me,” is a bad religiously inspired agenda.

      Also, the mosaic injunction against murder isn’t based on human rights but on the notion that murder offends god, thus reducing humans to slaves or pets.

      Shorter: Tiresome, disingenuous religious troll is tiresome and disingenuous.

      1. If that’s true, then couldn’t this…

        Also, the mosaic injunction against murder isn’t based on human rights but on the notion that murder offends god the state, thus reducing humans to slaves or pets.

        …also be true?

        What difference does it make how the immoral concept of murder is defined?

        1. What difference does it make how the immoral concept of murder is defined?

          It makes a big difference. Because when you start with the premise of self-ownership as the basis of all rights then nobody is a slave or pet. But if you start with the notion of the state as “protector” of rights, then you’re back to slavery.

          Good question.

          1. Since we appeal to human rights as inherent to our existance, but fail to halt serial violations of them throughout the world, it seems that what we’re left with is the self esteem question of whether our theoretical protection from murder would render us slaves or not. It all seems petty, especially to the victims of human rights abuses.

          2. We believe in ‘self ownership’.

            1. Uh, no, actually the unborn don’t “believe” anything. Most humans don’t even develop speech until almost one year out of the womb, and don’t develop a notion of themselves as separate from their environment until around two.

              1. This is where we run into problems with the self-ownership concept of human rights; it’s a back door to the central planning crowd. Your rights will only be as inherent as your ability to exercise them effectively.

                If you think I’m reaching, consider how the left believes that the poor should have their lives managed for them because they have shown an inability to do it for themselves.

              2. You seem glad that we can’t speak for ourselves. Feeling guilty about anything you’d like to share?

                1. I don’t know if you meant me or Tonio, but I don’t view someone’s inability to speak for themselves with glee or as a measure of their rights.

                  Rights are not dependent on anything, especially not one’s ability or the whim of one’s parents.

                  1. I meant Tonio. By your posts I believe we may be in agreement.

                  2. OK, my 1:35 was in response to “The Unborn” 12:29. We’ve run out of indents.

                    J_L_B: I’m pretty sure “The Unborn” was addressing me.

                2. No, and again no.

  8. Does Kurt Warner make a big deal out of being a Christian when he talks about God or brings his bible to a press conference?

    1. Not any more, since he retired over a year ago.

  9. The one thing that sticks out to me is at least Perry appears to believe that a Constitutional amendment is required to push his beliefs into law. It also looks like he’s willing to let the individual states make decisions until (the unlikely event) the amendments are passed. I’d still prefer Gary Johnson or Ron Paul myself.

    1. What this really means is that his federalism is a matter of procedure, not principle. He doesn’t care how much power the states actually have compared to the federal government; he just thinks that powers not delegated to the federal government go to the states. If a Constitutional Amendment gave the federal government power X, then one could still claim to be a federalist and support that.

      On the other hand, there are those who believe it is really better to leave the power to the states. These can the thought of as principled, rather than procedural, federalists.

      1. It’s at least a step up from the three clause reading of the Constitution (Commerce Clause, proper and necessary, general welfare). It may just be a baby step, but at least it’s a step.

        1. It’s at least a step up from the three clause reading of the Constitution (Commerce Clause, proper and necessary, general welfare). It may just be a baby step, but at least it’s a step.

          Very good point.

          There are reasonable discussions as to what the fed/state divide is, but at least Perry, even if he believes the divide should be different than it is now, knows that his preferred division of fed/state power can only be enacted by constitutional amendment, instead of simply saying “commerce clause”.

          1. This thread has it exactly right. Jacob, I love your writing, but attacking a person’s desire for amendments as “infidelity to the Constitution” is silly and you know it.

  10. I was much more offended by the alacrity with which Perry…abandoned his avowed federalist principles

    Wait, Jacob, don’t you live in Dallas? Have you not been following Perry’s career as governor? There’s not a principle that exists Perry wouldn’t drop in a hot second if it was politically expedient to do so.

  11. You may not like his positions but at least he supports amending the Constitution – the only proper way to delegate those powers to the federal government.

    1. Have we seriously lowered ourselves that much as a society? It’s not okay that he wants to break wipe the constitution with his ass, even if he does take it through the proper steps.

  12. Ironically, there’s an ad for Christian Mingle next to an article written by a Jewish person. Is there any algorithm for how they place these adverts, or is it just wherever? That would explain the Democratic ads I occasionally see.

    1. The algorhithm is probably just matching strings like “Rick Perry” with advertisers who market to christians. Thus, any article mentioning, say “Pelosi” would be served with ads for DNC, etc.

    2. How do you not use ad block?

  13. Yeah, I keep seeing this argument from the lefties in my life — first from the student newspaper at my university (UT-Austin) and now from the social lefties at Reason. You can say that he’s not a strong supporter of the concept of federalism if he’d prefer such an amendment, but he at least recognizes that the proper place for these arguments is at the state level absent the amendment. Being culture war agnostic myself, I’m heartened that he makes the distinction, and is honest enough (on this topic, at least) not to claim that what he wants is already written in the constitution.

    That’s what the student newspaper tried to tell me about their position.

    1. social lefties at Reason…Being culture war agnostic myself…

      LOLtastic. Because we’re just “lefties”. Nobody here has a principled objection to the SoCon agenda based on the notions of liberty and self-ownership.

      1. I didn’t call everyone here a “leftie,” I said there were some “social lefties” at Reason. The others surely have principled objections to whatever Perry has to sell, and it’s a straightforward process to argue against amendments. This is a little different than saying the constitution already says what I want it to say.

        Touchy, much?

      2. Nice try, but your original post was ambibiguous enough that it could reasonably be interpreted as calling everyone here a “social leftie.”

        Good luck honing your writing skills.

        1. I wrote what I meant to write, and you read what you wanted to read. Nobody else seemed to have a problem understanding.

  14. For clarification not that i’m a rick perry fan but no one was excluded from the “prayer” meeting .Any one would be free to pray to any one they wish

    1. Flying Spaghetti Monster.

      Invisible Pink Unicorn.

      The Flying Saucers.

      We’re not picky.

      1. You forgot Obama!

    2. Bullshit. If I showed up with a goat head icon and starting chanting to Baphomet, they’d show me the door posthaste.

      1. I think that would be true of any organized event.

    3. You got a link to the event organizers’ site with a clear declaration of welcoming for all religious beliefs, specifically non-christian?

    4. The left complained that this was an explicitly Christian event. Well, yes it was, and unapologetically, unashamedly, and unabashedly so. This too is consistent with the view of the Founders… from AFA website

      This is what the kids call “pwnage”.

  15. Well, the 10th isn’t so broad that it eclipses the Constitution, so I’m not sure I get your point. In the case that the Federal Government can manage to amend the Constitution, that amendment supersedes the 10th by the language of the 10th itself – so an amendment defining marriage as being between 1 man and 1 woman would circumvent the 10th legally. However, it would require an amendment, as you must know. Hard to get one of those, as you must also know. So therefore, until such time as any amendment can be ratified, the 10th should hold power.

    Now, as to your being a Jew and not necessarily invited to the prayer fest. I understand your feelings as an outsider. I grew up in South Florida where most of my friends were actually Jews. All those holidays off from school that they got to take – that I didn’t’ get to take … the rest of us non-Jews feeling left out. It happens. No reason to kvetch.

  16. Why do Republicans have to ruin it? Why can’t they keep their God spouting mouths shut?

  17. Amending is much better than interpreting at will. At least then the Constitution means what it says. Also, banning abortion makes sense IF you believe a fetus is a living, breathing person with full citizenship rights. Even a Fed definition of marriage kinda makes sense if states have to honor one another’s marriages. One could also argue the Feds have a duty to allow gay marriage in all states under EP.

    1. If we’re not ‘alive’, why kill us?

    2. I’ve always believed that by stretching the interpretation of the commerce clause so far, the left has left Roe v. Wade open to being overturned on commerce clause grounds.

      Imagine an argument where abortion affects interstate commerce (less men for war, less taxpayers to pay into social security), and thus the federal government has the right to ban it outright.

      1. CC can be used to overturn almost anything. It’s the only way to be sure the Constitution doesn’t stand in the way of your agenda.

  18. The reasoning in this article is faulty. You are not abdicating the 10th Amendment by passing a Constitutional Amendment (which is what Perry proposes) that makes abortion illegal or says marriage is between a man and a woman (I personally disagree with both ideas) but actually reaffirms the validity of the 10th Amendment by recognizing that ONLY an Amendment to the Constitution would suffice in accomplishing those goals (misguided as they are).

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Once an Amendment is ratified, it IS “delegated to the United States by the Constitution” and therefor no longer the purview of the states or the people.

    Don’t get me wrong, Perry is misguided in these efforts, BUT Sullum is using a faulty argument to discredit an adversary. Discredit him from libertarian grounds…fine…and I’d agree. But it has NOTHING to do with “Amending the 10th Amendment”, in fact, completely the opposite.

    1. Hold still. We’re going to puncture the base of your skull and suction out your brain. If it’s legal for you, it’s legal for us. Don’t worry, we won’t feel a thing.

      1. Because when the argument is going against you, try to change the subject from strict federalism to emotionally charged arguments about fetal rights.

        1. Hold still. You’re next.

          1. “Hold still. You’re next.”

            Go away.

            This is a libertarian site, if you must resort to emotion to present an argument, no one here cares to hear it. If you have something intelligent to say, feel free to stay and participate (and/or maybe learn something).

            1. We “go away” by the thousands every day. I’m sorry if you find our desire to exercise the same Constitutional Rights that you have to be “emotional”. We have beating hearts and DNA, same as you. If our Right to Life isn’t safe, no rights are safe.

            2. There’s nothing emotional about the concept of fetal rights compared to other concepts of rights. Rights don’t change as you age, so The Unborn rightly asks what distinction can there be between a fetus, 48-year-old, and 23-year-old’s rights since they were all, at some point, the first of those.

              1. J_L_B

                No, YOU asked, “what distinction can there be between a fetus, 48-year-old, and 23-year-old’s rights since they were all, at some point, the first of those.”

                A rational argument worthy of discussion, although perhaps not exactly pertinent to my original post.

                What The Unborn said was, “Hold still. We’re going to puncture the base of your skull and suction out your brain. If it’s legal for you, it’s legal for us. Don’t worry, we won’t feel a thing.”

                See the difference? You make an intelligent argument. He “reasons” with emotion instead of his brain.

                AND, I’m not sure why he replied to my post at all. I was questioning the validity of the author’s argument with respect to the 10th Amendment, NOT whether abortion should be legal.

                1. Uh, you said you disagreed with an amendment that makes abortion illegal. I was simply illustrating the barbarity of abortion by proposing using one of it’s methods on another human being. Would you have a problem with being burned alive by saline? Or, if you survive an abortion procedure, with being left to die? Our Constitution recognized slavery, which was eventually abolished. We just want the same rights that the once-slaves were given.

                  1. I lean toward pro-life. I would never choose to have (my partner) an abortion. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I think there needs to be a Constitutional Amendment banning it or that I can’t see both sides of the argument.

                    As a libertarian I believe in individual rights. How a libertarian feels on abortion depends on who’s rights you are speaking of. The woman has the right to not carry a parasite around in her body for 9 months without her consent. The unborn has the right to live, yet can’t without the consent of the mother. We have a judicial system in this country to rule which side takes precedence when the rights of two individuals comes into conflict. I see both sides and that is generally why I (and I may be the only one in the world) walk the line on abortion.

                    There are times when it is justified and times when not. I certainly don’t think it is as cut and dried as the extremists on both side claim it is. AND I think it is an issue that belongs to the States and NOT the Feds. AND THAT is why I feel Perry’s ideas are misguided, not because I have any particular view on abortion.

                    Perhaps you need to read more carefully and not jump to conclusions before spewing your venom.

                    1. side”s”…perhaps I need to proof read more carefully.

  19. Well said Mr. Sullum – I could hardly agree more. In fact, I suggest that our governor change his name from Rick “Good Hair” Perry to the simpler “Pander Perry”.

    I sincerely believe that, were the GOP to nominate Perry, it would virtually assure Obama’s re-election. Few independents, especially we libertarians, are likely to vote for Perry. The nomination of Perry would be just another Bob Dole, John McCain GOP giveaway.

    Thanks for a good article.

    Troy Robinson

  20. You know what? I am willing to concede to those arguing that Perry’s stand is not incompatible with a Constitutional point of view. That’s one of the many reasons I come to H&R – for differing perspectives and, at times, outright persuasion. However, I think few of us here will deny that the reason he broadcasted these beliefs was as a paean to the social conservative wing of the Republican Party. Too bad that he and every other Republican with any hope of getting the nomination must do the same.

    1. (+1)

    2. Unless His Eternal Majesty, the God-Emperor of the Great People’s Democratic Socialist Republic of the Proletarian States of America Barack Obama somehow dies in a fire, the Republican hopefuls are also going to have to pander to centrism/pay lip service to leftism.

      1. No, they don’t.

        1. I hope.

  21. I think Sullum has it wrong. Perry has clearly stated that his SoCon agenda should be enacted by the federal government only by Constitutional Amendment. For this I applaud Mr. Perry.

    However, Rick Perry gets it wrong. In the history of the US, only one Amendment has restricted the liberty of it’s citizens and it was repealed 14 years later. If you want your pisshole state to be a religious utopia, nay a veritable city on the hill, then so be it. But if you want to disrupt the laboratories of democracy based on your “morals” then you can rot in hell.

  22. I do not see the supposed inconsistency you are ranting about. Perry, unlike the ideologues who are so rife, acknowledges that the federal system allows the states to conduct their own affairs, and if you do not like it, the thing to do is AMEND THE CONSTITUTION, NOT persuade some court to blatantly usurp legislative function by a five to four vote.
    You may argue over whether a narrowly targeted measure is a “proper” use of the amending process, just as you may consider the Prohibition amendment to have been unwise. But the amending process and the Paradox of Self-Amendment are THERE, part of the same system (as Godel was restrained from pointing out by Einstein).
    Your logic resembles that of the homophile litigators in California insisting that a constitutional amendment which they dislike is somehow… unconstitutional, and should not be left to mere voters to decide.

    1. Your logic resembles that of the homophile litigators in California insisting that a constitutional amendment which they dislike is somehow… unconstitutional, and should not be left to mere voters to decide.

      I remember that case.

      The logic in that is if it constituted a revision to do that, then it constituted a revision to add the clause that had mandated legal recognition of same-sex “marriage” in the first place.

  23. As a evangelical conservative Christian who thinks both abortion and homosexual marriage is wrong, I am appalled by Rick Perry’s flip flopping. I can respect a guy who takes a principled stand on these sorts of issues, even if they deliver an outcome that I don’t agree with. Unprincipled crass political opportunism is an ugly feature of a politician, no matter what their religion is.

  24. I’m an athiest, but I don’t care what Perry’s religion is. If I think he is the candidate who can defeat the incompetent Obama, Perry will get my vote.

  25. Thank you to the usa. I would like a sanctified christian to be president.Hope the the feds stop the 2yr old pork my aunts restaruant gave me.smeled humany. My Jerk uncle. Hope that tv newscaster james is fired and the local aryans are out in jail then i can have a life and others.Idiot local churches aryan mennonites. huh?, yeah coward police and buddys. Come on us attorney

  26. Thank you to the usa. I would like a sanctified christian to be president.Hope the the feds stop the 2yr old pork my aunts restaruant gave me.smeled humany. My Jerk uncle. Hope that tv newscaster james is fired and the local aryans are out in jail then i can have a life and others.Idiot local churches aryan mennonites. huh?, yeah coward police and buddys. Come on us attorney

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