Those who think it’s some sort of partisan exaggeration to say that today’s Republican Party has moved into some pretty extreme ideological territory should pay some attention to the latest conservative craze in state capitols and even in Washington: the so-called Repeal Amendment.
The bright idea here is to amend the U.S. Constitution–if necessary by a state-called Constitutional Convention–to allow two-thirds of state legislatures to nullify federal legislation whenever it pleases them.
Here’s how Dahlia Lithwick and Jeff Sesol of Slate characterize the Repeal Amendment:
There is so much wrong with the Repeal Amendment that it’s difficult to know how to begin to respond. The Constitution is–by design–a nationalist document. It is also–again by design–an anti-democratic document. American history reveals precisely what happens when state or regional interests are allowed to trump national ones, and the Constitution has been at its best (for example, the Reconstruction Amendments) when it has addressed (and, better yet, resolved) that tension.
They don’t even get into the potential issues with a constitutional convention, which according to some scholars, cannot be limited to any one issue and could fundamentally rewrite the Constitution.
But crazy as it is, the Repeal Amendment is getting some real momentum, not least because it’s been embraced by the number two Republican in the U.S. House, Eric Cantor:
[J]ust two months after the proposal was a twinkle in a Virginia legislator’s eye, the leadership of nine states is showing interest, and the popularity of the amendment’s Web site (they have them nowadays) has “mushroomed.” And this week, completing the proposal’s rapid march from the margins to the mainstream, Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah introduced the amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives, pledging to put “an arrow in the quiver of states.” The soon-to-be House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, said this week that “the Repeal Amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around.” Fawning editorials in the Wall Street Journal and chest-heaving Fox News interviews quickly followed.
This is just nuts, and defenders of the sweet reasonableness of the GOP need to acknowledge it.