Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Giving Credit Where It's Due Department

The Doonesbury strip from the Sunday before last featured a reporter calling Bush to task for supporting so many constitutional amendments:
Mr. President, you have always said you believed in strict constitutional constructionism … and yet you favor amending the Constitution to prevent gay marriage … and you favor another amendment to outlaw abortion, and another to criminalize flag-burning … and another one to balance the budget … and yet another to enshrine victims’ rights.
With the possible exception of the balanced-budget amendment, I oppose all those proposals. But there is absolutely no contradiction between supporting constitutional amendments and favoring strict constitutional constructionism. The strict constructionist opposes reading one’s own opinions into the existing Constitution, not changing it. If you want the government to do something not specifically authorized, according to the strict constructionist view, proposing a constitutional amendment is the right way to go about it. I wish I could say this Bush administration was always this respectful of constitutionalism.

To be fair to Gary Trudeau, Bush is being disingenuous. He claims to believe in the principles of our Constitution – a claim belied by his willingness to (for instance) create a special loophole in freedom of speech to punish flag burners. But this contradiction has nothing to do with strict constructionism.

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