This week and the Constitution: CPAC, civility, and Springsteen

News headlines, politicians, and hot-button issues come and go, but one 225-year-old document continues to emerge in our conversations about our nation’s most important questions and challenges: the Constitution. The Constitution is a big buzzword for Election 2012, and more than ever, citizens, pundits, and politicians are turning to the Constitution for answers–and sometimes ammunition, as they try to prove the Constitution is on their side.

Here’s a brief look at the top constitutional news stories and commentaries from this week.

1. The Constitution and… CPAC

GOP candidate Mitt Romney told attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “I know this president will never get it, but we conservatives aren’t just proud to cling to our guns and to our religion. We are also proud to cling to our Constitution.”

2. The Constitution and… Obama’s FY2013 Budget

According to Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, Congress has the final word on the federal budget. But the president does still have a say–he can “recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient” and use the veto power (see Article II, Section 3; Article I, Section 7). This working relationship was formalized in the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which requires the president to submit an annual budget to Congress. This week President Barack Obama did just that. You can read more about Obama’s FY2013 budget here.

3. The Constitution and… Contraception vs. Civility

On Feb. 16 the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing titled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” Several House Democrats walked out of the hearing, protesting the lack of any female witnesses at a hearing related to the debate over providing birth control to women. Committee chairman Darrel Issa refused the requests of Rep. Elijah Cummings to include a female witness, Sandra Fluke, in the hearing, saying the Democrats had not submitted her name in time and that she was not qualified to speak. In the web archive of the hearing, a video of Fluke’s testimony was added. The debate over contraception being covered by religiously affiliated employers has sparked a mini culture war, and with it, apparently, an occasional lapse in civility.

4. The Constitution and… Springsteen!

This week the National Constitution Center officially unveiled its newest feature exhibition, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen. The exhibition takes a comprehensive look at Springsteen’s catalog, including more than 150 artifacts, such as the Fender Esquire guitar from the cover of Born to Run and Springsteen’s 1960 Chevrolet Corvette. It also explores Springsteen’s use of freedom of expression to chronicle the American dream and the lives of “We the People.”

Constitution Daily
, the Center’s blog, will be celebrating freedom of expression every Friday throughout the run of the exhibition with “Freedom of Expression Fridays,” which will feature unique and original posts by musicians, writers, visual artists, and more, with a focus on issues such as protest, dissent, and the role of art in politics and political campaigns.

Constitutional Must-reads…

Why Gay Marriage is Inevitable,”  Michael Klarman, L.A. Times

Protecting Rights of Conscience,” editorial, Deseret News

Syria’s New Constitution: Too Little, Too Late,” Sami Moubayed, Huffington Post

How Companies Learn Your Secrets,” Charles Duhigg, New York Times

ObamaCare and the Constitution Are Contradictory: One Must Fall,” Lawrence Hunter, Forbes

U.S. Supreme Court Justice: ‘Constitution is a Static Being,” Alexandra Chachkevitch, Chicago Tribune

Holly Munson is the Assistant Editor of Constitution Daily, the blog of the National Constitution Center.

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