The GOP, Tea Party Declare War on the Constitution

Republicans think the Constitution is perfect. But they have 41 ways to make it better.

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For sheer "huh?" quality, though, nothing beats the Tea Party push to repeal the 17th Amendment. That's the one, passed in 1913, which provides for direct election of U.S. senators who had previously been appointed by state legislatures. Ninety-seven years later, the Tea Party and its GOP candidates want to take voters back out of the process. And some could be in Congress next year. Utah attorney Mike Lee, the favorite to win ousted Sen. Bob Bennett's seat, favors repeal. (No surprise: Utah was the only state not to ratify it.) So do Idaho state Sen. Raul Labrador, running against conservative Democratic Rep. Walt Minick; funeral-home owner Steve Southerland, challenging Florida Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd; and Louisiana lawyer Jeff Landry, who is running for the open seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon (who is running for Senate). Colorado GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck opposed the 17th Amendment before quickly backtracking and voicing support for it. Ditto former Ohio state Sen. Steve Stivers, challenging Democratic incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy.

[See who supports Kilroy.]

Georgia GOP Rep. Paul Broun told supporters in July that the "process of socializing America" traces not only to the 17th but the 16th Amendment (which allows an income tax) and that he wants to repeal them both.

These may indeed be "constitutional conservatives," but it's a constitution of their imagination, not reality.

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