I wrote on the topic of Constitutional Fundamentalism a few weeks ago, about how some Tea Party members carry around a pocket copy of the United States Constitution as a sort of talisman. I must confess that until recently it had been a very long time since I read the Constitution all together at one sitting. It’s a rather interesting but quirky document for the lay person.
I don’t know the precise motivation, but the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) recently has started mass mailing pocket copies of the Constitution also. (I carry an electronic copy on my iPhone.)
I see “just read the Constitution” often in comments here as a justification for something that is not in the Constitution. I think perhaps some of them should “just read the Constitution.”
Listening to the current argument about the construction of an Islamic community center, and the heat President Obama has taken over it, reminds me that in the popular mind the Constitution says to some folks what they want to hear. It says that speech is free so long as the speech is agreeable. It says that the President must have two citizen parents because they don’t like Obama and Obama doesn’t have two US citizen parents. The birthers, and the Tea Partiers adopt the trappings of patriotism but deny the substance of it as defined in the Constitution.
Liberals are not immune from reading their own prejudices into the Constitution either. Many liberals quit the ACLU in 1977-78 when it supported a neo-Nazi group’s right to march in a Jewish neighborhood in Skokie, Illinois.