In a recent radio interview, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) made the seemingly-innocuous statement that the federal highway system, as well as federal laws ensuring safe drugs and safe airplanes, are constitutional. Nevertheless, Shea-Porter is now under attack by “tenther” activists who believe that virtually everything the federal government does is unconstitutional:
Author and historian David Barton, the president of WallBbuilders, [sic] says Shea-Porter’s comments reflect her view that Washington government should run everything. He notes that both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments say anything that is not explicitly covered in the Constitution belongs to the states and to the people.
“All of those issues belong to the states and the people. Healthcare is not a federal issue. It is a state and people issue — the same with transportation. The Constitution does say that the federal government can take care of what are called the post roads — those on which the mail travels — but outside of that, states are responsible for their own highways, their own roads, their own county, local, state roads,” he notes. “And her comment about, ‘Well, the Constitution doesn’t cover drug use and drug abuse’ — yes it does, and that is under the criminal justice issues that belong to the states.”
As ThinkProgress previously reported, conservatives are increasingly enraptured with tentherism, which claims that landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment — and many leading conservative officials are determined to impose the tentherism on the country. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is a tenther, as are Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas embraces tenther claims that the federal minimum wage and the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, among other things, are unconstitutional.
Indeed, even federal highways opponent Barton is no small figure in conservative politics; Barton is one of six “experts” tasked with rewriting Texas’ public school textbooks to teach a right-wing alternative history to Texan children. Apparently, Barton and his fellow tenthers also want to rewrite the Constitution.