One of the hallmarks of the extreme right-wing of the Republican party is an embrace of “tentherism” — that is, the belief that nearly everything the federal government does, particularly when exercising spending power, is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment which holds that any power not granted to the federal government is held by the states.
Texas governor and Republican presidential nominee Rick Perry is one of the most visible tenthers and on record as believing that Social Security and Medicare violate the 10th Amendment. But Perry is not alone in those beliefs. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) would like to eliminate not just Medicare under the 10th Amendment, but Pell Grants and other federal social spending.
Thankfully not even staunch conservative and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia buys into this radical misunderstanding of the Constitution. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked the Justice if it would be proper to render these programs unconstitutional under that view, Justice Scalia didn’t just dismiss tentherism, he openly mocked it.
When one of the most conservative justices in the history of the court mocks the very foundation of the hard-right’s constitutional understanding you know it is off the rails.
Photo from The Higgs Boson via flickr.