Tentherism is, of course, an entirely fabricated doctrine with no basis whatsoever in the Constitution, but poor Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) can’t even keep this fake Tea Party Constitution straight. During last week’s GOP presidential debate, Bachmann claimed that it was also unconstitutional when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney enacted reforms similar to the Affordable Care Act at the state level:
QUESTION: Congresswoman Bachmann, you are a big believer in the Tenth Amendment and the idea of granting power to the states, so let me ask you: does that make any difference, whether mandatory health insurance is being imposed by a state or by the federal government?
BACHMANN: No, I don’t believe it does. I think the government is without authority to compel its citizens to purchase a product or service against their will, because effectively when the federal government does that, what they are doing is saying to the individual, they are going to set the price of what the product is. If the government can force citizens or if a state can force their citizens to purchase health insurance, there is nothing that the state cannot do.
Bachmann’s understanding of the Constitution places her directly at odds with the president of the Philadelphia Convention that wrote our founding document. In 1792 — after the Bill of Rights had already become part of the Constitution — President George Washington signed the Second Militia Act, which requires freedmen of a certain age to “provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein.” Many of the Members of Congress who voted for the Act were also members of the Philadelphia Convention.
And this is hardly the first time that Bachmann struggled to make sense of the Constitution. Bachmann suggested Census forms are unconstitutional. She supports stripping federal judges of their power to hear marriage equality cases in order to prevent the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law from being extended to gay people. She even invited two radical tenthers who believe that everything from Social Security to the federal highway system to the 17th Amendment to the Constitution are unconstitutional to lecture her fellow lawmakers on what the Constitution requires. (Yes, you read that right. One of Bachmann’s constitutional role models believes that part of the Constitution is unconstitutional.)
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, when Bachmann speaks about the Constitution, she’s just making it up as she goes along. Bachmann’s views cannot be squared with the text of the Constitution, they are at odds with the founding generation’s understanding of the document, and they can’t even be squared with the fake constitution espoused by her fellow Tea Partiers.