Rule of Law

TV (ABC News): Constitution Expert: Tea Party Members, Conservatives Are ‘Getting The Constitution Wrong’

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 Wydra said Cain’s was the most egregious one, and he was not the only one to mix up his historical documents.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.”

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.”