Republican Convention 2012

The Republicans' Selective Reading of the Constitution


The 2012 Republican platform, released today, promises "A Restoration of Constitutional Government." If that sounds good to you, you may not want to spoil the warm feelings by delving into the disturbing details.

The Republicans insist, for example, that every act of Congress "cite the provision of the Constitution which permits its introduction," but they still manage to support all sorts of constitutionally unauthorized programs, including subsidies for farming, education, adoption, and home ownership. The Republicans love federalism, except when it comes to physician-assisted suicide, which they want to prevent via the Controlled Substances Act, and marriage law, where they insist on the one man, one woman definition enshrined in the Defense of Marriage Act—which, according to its author, "has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions." Republicans are very big on limits to executive power, except when the president claims to be protecting national security, an area where he is "the lead instrument of the American people." They are keen on freedom of speech, as long as it does not involve sex or flag desecration. They like the Fourth Amendment insofar as it might be relevant to unmanned surveillance aircraft (except near the border, of course); otherwise (as it pertains to warrantless interception of email and phone calls, say, or to collection of third-party records such as geolocation data), not so much. They are fans of the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause but cannot spare a word for due process, perhaps because it might raise uncomfortable questions about their support for indefinite detention and summary execution in the name of fighting terrorism. To be fair (if that is the right word), the fact that Republicans favor such policies even when a Democrat occupies the White House suggests their authoritarianism is even stronger than their partisanship. 

Perhaps the Republicans should get credit simply for mentioning the Ninth Amendment, except that they claim it "codifies the concept that our government derives its power from the people and all powers not delegated to the government are retained by the people." That is closer to the meaning of the 10th Amendment, which says, "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." The Ninth Amendment, by contrast, says, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, people have certain rights that must be respected even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution—a concept Republicans might accept as long as they never have to identify any.

NEXT: British Deputy PM Calls for "Wealth Tax"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


    YOU LIE!!!

  2. Also, this is today’s “dog bites man” story, right?

  3. Conservatives have hated the Constitution since Jefferson and Madison slipped the Establishment Clause into the First Amendment.

    1. Whereas Democrats have hated the constitution since the GOP made them ratify the Thirteenth Amendment.

      1. You’re 12 amendments off. They don’t believe in free speech, or free press (unless it’s MSNBC).

        1. But they’re willing to let you pray unmolested on Sunday, you have to admit, with the transgendered pansexual priest the church was forced to hire pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 2017.

    2. You obviously never read a word about Woodrow Wilson.

  4. Sheesh. If you’re going to focus on every little inconsistency in their constitutionalism then you’re never going to vote Republican.

    1. No, you’re never going to vote for anyone who has a chance of winning.

      And if people who believe in the Constitution’s importants voluntarily disarm themselves of their voting power, don’t be surprised (and even moreso, don’t bitch) when elected officials don’t give the slightest rat’s ass about the Constitution. People in North Korea have every right to bitch about their govt’s abuses because they have no way of changing it. We Americans don’t, unless we’re using our voting power and other available means to effect change.

      1. That’s only partially true. The problem is that there is one thing we really do have a right to complain about. The fact that politicians are collecting tax payer money and using it to bribe people to vote for them. That is not Democracy or Representative government in any form, it’s corruption pure and simple. It should not be allowed and it’s going to destroy the country.

      2. So libertarians and Constitutionalists should just keep voting Republican, regardless of how unconstitutional and anti-liberty their behavior is, because that will prevent more unconstitutional and unlibertarian behavior?

        1. Dude, this is exactly what the TEAM RED shills are going to spewing endlessly as this election looms. You better get used to it.

          1. I know but the logic is just so absurd. If we don’t vote for Republicans, they won’t care about the Constitution. But if they don’t care about the Constitution anyways, we should still vote for them for the same reason.

            1. It’s pretty much a “heads-i-win, tails-you-lose” proposition.

              The Democrats have been pulling this shtick on various constituencies for years.

  5. Thank you, GOP, for making it much easier to vote for Johnson. They aren’t even courteous enough to tell the Paul supporters and libertarians that the piss on their back is rain.

    1. I think Jacob’s litany is off-base in some regards, but unfortunately all to accurate in the vast majority of the cass. It’s so depressing.

  6. In other words, people have certain rights that must be respected even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution

    That’s not what the Ninth Amendment says. It says unenumerated rights exist, not that they can be enforced by the judiciary. Basically it’s to prevent the govt from replacing the enumerated powers doctrine of Article 1 Section 8 with a doctrine that they can do anything they want as long as it doesnt violate part of the Bill of Rights.

    1. That’s not what the Ninth Amendment says.

      Actually, that’s EXACTLY what it says:

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      If they’re legal rights, then by definition the government HAS to respect them, by the way.

      1. Last sentence shouldn’t be part of the quote.

  7. apparently, rachel corrie’s family aint getting jackshit in regards to their lawsuit

    as it should be……..qus_thread

    corrie, a product of Evergreen State College, the same far left (publically funded) institution that featured MUMIA as a speaker (via long distance of course, since he’s an incarcerated murderer)

    1. I’m not completely unsympathetic to the family, since that must be hell to go through, but the girl kneeled in front of a bulldozer, it’s hardly unreasonable to say that the driver couldn’t see her.

      1. yea, iirc they were suing caterpillar at one point

        i think the case has been pretty clear from the start that the death was almost certainly unintentional, and the visibility from those armoured, huge bulldozers SUCKS. and she willingly placed herself in its path

        her death was a tragedy. i’m not a huge fan of US citizens that go to foreign soil and burn us flags, but i am certain she believed sincerely in her cause and was willing to go out of her way to fight for her beliefs. i respect that

        1. the death was almost certainly unintentional

          It was intentional — on Ms Corrie’s part. Unless you’re claiming she accidentally fell in front of the bulldozer.

        2. Sincerity and commitment are overrated. Corrie was a crazy bitch on the wrong side of the fight.

          1. absoltely. but i can still respect her fire, even while being a steadfast defender of israel myself and thinking hamas is a terorrist bunch of fucksticks

            1. That leads to admiration of a whole host of really awful people who were aflame with zeal for even more awful causes.

              1. No, it only “leads” to admiration a particular traits. You can find something about a person worthy of respect, without admiring the person herself.

      2. AFAIC, you intentionally throw yourself in front of a piece of heavy equipment for your cause, you and your family have no right to sue over your death. Martyrs deserve adoration, not compensation.

      3. hey, let’s go into another country, preferably one that has some hostilities going on, pick sides and stand in front of a bulldozer because we don’t like what folks are doing inside their own borders. What could go wrong?

  8. DOMA is pro-federalism. Reason gets it barkwards again.

    1. There is an argument to be made for this. I think it’s constitutional as well.

    2. Except that it discriminates on basis of sex, which is blatantly unconstitutional.

  9. Rs and Ds, the left and right wings of the same bird of prey, determined to feast on our rotting remains.

    Too many of my R party acquaintances revile discussion of liberty, preferring to promote their brand of authoritarianism…from city hall to the state house to the big house in DC.

    Damn them all…

  10. this isn’t “campy bad” or whatever

    it’s just BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD

    1. My Wonder Bread just vomited.

    2. Why did you do that? I’m going down to the beach, and walking into the surf, until the pain ends. Let the world know that it was Dunphy’s post that finally did it.

      Goodbye cruel world.

  11. they are not evil, not prevaricating.

    They are fucking retarded. That is all. Vote for a functional retard if you wish but that is what we are offered by GOP (and of course, by DEM too)

  12. So they don’t follow their platform? Or studiously ignore it? Does this mean that the porn plank is toast as well?

  13. Why are we still arguing today over the original intent of our long-dead founding fathers anyway. It’s pathetic, not to have put forth a thousand and one alternatives to our founding document by now–including whatever a libertarian constitution would look like, assuming that that isn’t an oxymoron.


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.