Cutting and pasting to the Constitution
REID J. EPSTEIN | 11/25/11 6:19 PM EST
To hear the Republican presidential candidates tell it, the U.S. Constitution is the guiding light of democracy, a bedrock document so perfect and precise that it shouldn’t be challenged, interpreted or besmirched by modern-day judges.
Except for all the parts the GOP candidates themselves want to change .
The same candidates promising to appoint strict constructionist judges clearly think the Framers, for all their wisdom and foresight, forgot a few things, which they now want to tack on with an array of proposed constitutional amendments that would bulk up the document.
A balanced budget amendment, measures banning abortion and gay marriage, and eliminating the income tax and birthright citizenship — the Republican White House contenders want to see all these added.
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.
That’s directly at odds with the Constitution’s Article III, Section 1, which reads: “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”
Perry said his hope was to spark a deeper revolution in the federal government.
“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’s a less reverential view of the Supreme Court than the one Perry expressed in his 2010 book “Fed Up!”, where he outlined a guiding philosophy more in line with the mainstream conservative originalism.
“The Court should be revered as the guardian of the rule of law and of our most basic founding principles,” Perry wrote. “It should be particularly protective of our founding structure – a unique structure of dual sovereigns that placed power as close to the people as was practical so that the people could govern themselves.”
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 Bettendorf speech also called for a congressional pay cut, which would violate the 27th Amendment — or require a new amendment — if it were to take effect before the next Congress is seated. Perry is also seeking legislation that would require a two-thirds majority for any tax increase.
Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said the founding fathers expected the Constitution to be altered.
“Gov. Perry’s call for ending lifetime judicial appointments by constitutional amendment is consistent with the processes and protections build into the Constitution by the original framers,” he said.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/68720.html#ixzz1emhGmHYK