The top of the Washington Post website on Wednesday features this headline: "Dem: You shouldn't 'worship your Constitution.'" It links to an article on the top of the front page of the Style section emphasizing how Democrats worry the Tea Party and the Republicans have caused Democrats to "worry that the charter is being misconstrued as the immutable word of God" -- as if the Democrats' base believes in an immutable God. Reporter Jason Horowitz forwarded the panic of very liberal Rep. Jerrold Nadler of lower Manhattan (lifetime ACU score: 2.6 out of 100), presented as a "Talmudic" scholar of the text:
"They are reading it like a sacred text," said New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the outgoing chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, who has studied and memorized the Constitution with talmudic intensity.
Nadler called the "ritualistic reading" on the floor "total nonsense" and "propaganda" intended to claim the document for Republicans. "You read the Torah, you read the Bible, you build a worship service around it," said Nadler, who argued that the Founders were not "demigods" and that the document's need for amendments to abolish slavery and other injustices showed it was "highly imperfect."
"You are not supposed to worship your constitution. You are supposed to govern your government by it," he said.
The Post also emphasized that last sentence and a picture of Nadler to cement his role as the central voice of the piece. Rep. Michele Bachmann did get a speaking part to instruct Nadler:
"It's not on the same level as a sacred text that God would hand down to the faithful," said Bachmann, specifying the the document was "secular" and intended to provide parameters for the branches of government. But, she added, religious inspiration had a role in the document's drafting. "Those who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were themselves devout individuals - primarily in their Christian faith," she said, arguing that the product was "reflective of their sincerely held beliefs."
But Bachmann was then matched by two Yale law professors, Bruce Ackerman and Akhil Amar. Horowitz then went back to more trash talk from Nadler about the Tea Party folks being ignorant about the Constitution:
But some Democrats and constitutional scholars said the tea party had an atemporal view of the document that ignored the monumental changes of the Civil War, the New Deal and the Civil Rights era.
Ackerman said the events of the constitutional convention showed that the Constitution resulted from a "pro-tax rebellion" on the part of Federalists who thought the Articles of Confederation lacked enough power to raise taxes to pay the nation's considerable war debts.
Nadler agreed. "A lot of the tea party people, I wonder how many of them have read the Constitution," Nadler said. "A lot of them, they seem to think the Constitution is the Articles of Confederation."
Nadler said he anticipates a raft of "idiotic amendments" from Republicans, such as an effort to allow states to nullify acts of Congress, that would blatantly violate the Constitution.
The Post also questioned the Constitution-reading (featuring Bachmann and Yale law professor Amar) last Thursday on the front page.