by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has generated criticism from the political Left for his support of as many as seven proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution — to end lifetime tenure for federal judges, to allow supermajorities of Congress to overturn Supreme Court decisions, and so on.
The critics wonder why a politician who expresses such strong devotion to the Constitution supports so many major amendments to the document.
Writing in the latest National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru notes that the critics miss a key point:
If liberals are unenthusiastic about explicitly amending the Constititution, … it is because they have little need to go through the laborious process of getting two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states to agree to the constitutional proposals, since they can follow the easier path of getting five or more justices of the Supreme Court to amend it for them. It is inconceivable that they could persuade the requisite national supermajority to amend the Constitution to command all governments, state and federal, to accord the status of marriage to same-sex couples. It is entirely conceivable that they could persuade the Court to do it.
Conservatives for the most part do not behave similarly (for whatever reason: perhaps in part a lack of opportunity). We have not sought to get the Supreme Court to command states to recognize fetal personhood, or to command public schools to organize prayers, or to forbid same-sex marriage. Our preference for formal constitutional amendments is itself a type of fidelity to the Constitution: fidelity, specifically, to Article V. We adhere to the form the Constitution itself lays down for how changes to it should be pursued.