Much of conservative Forbe's blogger Avik Roy's response to the devastating list of quotes complied by Matt Yglesias from Rick Perry's book consist of assertions that Perry didn't say what he said. But one of his responses I found remarkable. Here's Perry on the constitutional scope of federal power:
[Perry] regrets the existence of jurisprudence construing the Commerce Clause to permit “federal laws regulating the environment, regulating guns, protecting civil rights, establishing the massive programs and Medicare and Medicaid, creating national minimum wage laws, [and] establishing national labor laws.” Perry makes a partial exception for laws barring racial discrimination which he says fulfill “the intent behind the passage of the Reconstruction Era amendments.”
He also argues that Social Security and the regulation of financial markets violates the Constitution. According to Roy, however, "this is about as mainstream of a conservative position on constitutional law as there is."
This is a quite remarkable claim. I'm not sure what Roy means when he says that the position that most of the New Deal and Great Society are unconstitutional is "mainstream." Certainly, it's not the position advanced by William Rehnquist in United States v. Lopez, which, while saying that the Court declined "to proceed any further," did not suggest that the long-established precedents upholding the New Deal should be overruled. The only Republican appointee on the Rehnquist or Roberts Courts who does not fully endorse Rehnquist's acceptance of the New Deal is Clarence Thomas, and even he has never explicitly endorsed anything like Perry's views. The same is true of major Republican politicians; certainly no Republican presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater has suggested that the New Deal was unconstitutional.
Perry's constitutional views, in other words, are radical not only compared to public opinion but even compared to Republican Supreme Court justices and Republican politicians of even the most recent past. Perhaps these views are now mainstream enough for Perry to get the Republican nomination -- but this represents a new (and very frightening) development.
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