Monday’s Mtg: What is “Constitutional Conservatism?”

We have a great topic this week and a lively one. Methods of Constitutional interpretation may seem like an obscure subject, and maybe it would have been five years ago. But, since the rise of the Tea Party, “Constitutional conservatism” has become a kind of battle cry and a label with a fairly specific meaning to its adherents. Not all conservatives go this far in constitutional philosophy.  But, many are calling for a kind of restoration of a lost Constitution, one that sanctions a much narrower range of federal government activities than it currently undertakes.

At its most extreme, almost the entirety of constitutional law that expanded government since the New Deal becomes illegitimate and illegal. The Constitution allows government to protect our basic rights, mainly from government itself, plus carry out a handful of other tasks (e.g., make treaties). But, nothing else is permissible unless specifically enumerated in the document. Not Social Security, nor the Clean Air/Water Act, nor Food Stamps, nor federal aid to states for education.  Again, not all conservatives adhere to all of this, but the ones making the most noise seem to.

As suggested by Carl, I wanted to spend a few minutes Monday discussing whether we should create some new rules to make or discussions work better. Then, I’ll do a brief opening explaining the Tea Party’s version of constitutional conservatism as I understand it, and then open it up for the group’s input and discussion.

In the interest of keeping my remarks short, please read the recommended links below to a get a more thorough idea of what Constitutional conservatism means to its advocates and to its critics.

Links –

What is a Constitutional conservative, in their own words –

Criticisms of it –

NEXT WEEK: Lessons learned from Guantanamo.


One response

  1. I just wish these people would be more forthright about their aims–class warfare–and not try to dignify it as a “philosophy” nor wrap in the mantle of “conservatism” and “original intent”

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