The words “tea party” are not normally associated with moderation and restraint, but a group known as the Asheville Tea Party is extreme even by tea party standards. The Asheville Tea Party published a lengthy rant comparing President Obama to Hitler (sample quote: “Hitler took control of the banks….Obama took control of the banks. Hitler installed Socialized medicine….Obama’s Administration passed Socialized medicine.”). They devote an entire section of their website to “Sharia, The Threat.” They offer a list of resources focused on the “communist take over of America” (sample article title: “How Many Members Of The U.S. Congress Are Self-Declared Socialists?”). And they are hosting an event tomorrow keynoted by a sitting North Carolina Supreme Court justice:
Justice Newby is a major benefactor of wealthy conservatives’ largess. A super PAC formed earlier this year to raise unlimited sums of money to keep Newby on the bench, and another group led by North Carolina retail mogul Art Pope already dropped $72,000 to support Newby’s reelection bid.
Nevertheless, Newby’s decision to keynote an Asheville Tea Party event is surprising given the Asheville Tea Party’s unusual understanding of the Constitution. In a statement released shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the Asheville Tea Party declared that “We need new representatives in Raleigh dedicated to states rights and nullification who will stand up and prevent onerous federal mandates thurst upon us.” Nullification is an unconstitutional doctrine which claims that states can simply decree that federal laws will no longer apply within their borders. It was very much in vogue during slaveholder efforts to retain power in the 1830s and segregationist efforts to retain power in the 1950s and 60s, but it is explicitly rejected by the Constitution — which provides that duly enacted federal laws “shall be the supreme law of the land.”