The Right Opinion

The Sophistry of Coons' Professed Loyalty to the Constitution

By David Limbaugh · Oct. 15, 2010

It is interesting and disappointing that so many politicians treat “faith” – at least the Christian faith – as a poison pill they cannot touch, much less swallow. Republicans often run from it because of PC intimidation, and Democrats because it’s in their DNA to do so.

There was a revealing exchange touching on this subject in the Delaware U.S. Senate debate between Christine O'Donnell and Chris Coons. O'Donnell said, “But regardless of my personal faith, when I go down to Washington, D.C., it is the Constitution that I will defend and it is by the Constitution that I will make all of my decisions, and that will be the standard-bearer for every piece of legislation that I will vote on.”

I don’t want to be hard on O'Donnell, whom I admire and support, but I think she articulated her position inartfully here, probably because of unnecessary defensiveness about the potential role of her Christian faith in her governance.

I suspect what she meant was that though she stands by her faith unapologetically, she would not permit it to trump the Constitution if there were a conflict between the two (a needless concern). I am convinced she did not mean that her worldview would not guide her legislative preferences.

The Constitution establishes parameters within which Congress can legislate and forbids it to legislate on matters over which it has neither enumerated powers nor powers arising from the “necessary and proper” clause. I assume O'Donnell meant that she would honor those constitutional guidelines but wasn’t speaking to what would guide her policy advocacy within those parameters.

For the reality is that everyone’s worldview guides his policy preferences; it would be impossible for it not to. The idea that we don’t legislate morality is a mindless mantra divorced from reality. Virtually every vote a legislator casts and every decision an executive makes is influenced in some way by his worldview, whether it be Judeo-Christian, secular humanist, Marxist, atheist or otherwise.

This becomes clearer when we examine Coons' shallow position on the matter. He assures us that his faith is a central part of many private decisions he makes, but, he says, “The aspects of my faith that are religious doctrine don’t influence the decisions that I’ve made for the public in my 10 years in county office.”

On what basis, then, does Coons support various aspects of the liberal agenda, from radical wealth redistribution to Obamacare to environmental legislation? Do his moral beliefs play no role in how he formulates his policy preferences? If not, what does he base them on?

If so, do those moral beliefs proceed from his “religious doctrine” or from precepts of secularism or the orthodoxy of ideological liberalism?

One cannot credibly argue that moral beliefs play no role in people’s policy preferences. Liberals are nothing if not moral scolds, always painting conservatives as uncompassionate, bigoted, intolerant and greedy. If they are not invoking their brand of morality in judging conservatives, what are they doing?

Coons smarmily derided O'Donnell in questioning whether she supports the “Constitution as passed by the Founders, the Constitution of 1920, 1930, the Constitution of 1975 (or) the Constitution of today.” He assured us that he supports today’s Constitution, and he thinks it’s very important to know where O'Donnell stands on “protecting a woman’s right to choose, protecting reproductive freedom,” prayer and evolution.

Coons said he is “someone who stands firmly behind the Constitution as it stands today,” and he wants to know “what sort of judges (O'Donnell) would confirm.” After all, he told us self-righteously, he respects “stare decisis, the decided cases, the case law that governs the United States.”

Such sophistry. Coons supports Supreme Court precedent that exists today, such as Roe v. Wade and the line of cases regulating the states' right to outlaw abortion as a matter of constitutional fidelity, but he condemns O'Donnell and others who would confirm judges who would reverse that precedent.

In other words, based on his worldview, which supports abortion, Coons treats Supreme Court precedent supporting that position as sacrosanct, but not decisions that would contradict it. If his fealty were to the Constitution, he would reject Roe as outrageously contrary to that foundational document and as an egregious example of judicial lawmaking. And if it’s just court precedent he honors, then he cannot fairly condemn O'Donnell for confirming judges who would reverse Roe with their newly established precedent.

Obviously, Coons, like other liberals, cloaks his end-justifies-the-means pursuit in high-minded terms, such as loyalty to the Constitution, but it is nothing more than his policy preferences guided by his worldview and absolutely untethered by constitutional constraints.

Unlike O'Donnell, Coons' worldview preferences would trump any fealty he has to the Constitution. That said, there is no need for O'Donnell – or any other Christian conservative – to deny that her worldview would guide her legislative advocacy.

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9 Comments

wjm in Colorado said:

Clearer and clearer by the day, Liberals are lyars, and should be voted out! They have no facts to back up their lies.

Friday, October 15, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Jim Keim said:

Outstanding analysis and commentary!

Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 1:43 AM

Jodi said:

Coons also, in that same debate, made a big show of despising and rejecting the more recent Supreme Court decision regarding Campaign Finance Reform. How, if he reveres court precedent - and this decision does set such a precedent - can he make such a statement? Can't have it both ways!

Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 9:12 AM

RiverKing said:

Of course he can have it both ways, Jodi; he's a liberal.

Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Cowboy in San Antonio said:

While lawyers and legal contestants want to know what to expect from courts, hence the ideas of stare decisis and consistency of court rulings from one case to the next, history shows many instances of the law simply being morally wrong, such as the allowance and support of slavery, denial of womens' rights, and of course, making it legal to kill unborn children. The United States Constitution is a guide written by brilliant men to keep the nation on a narrow track. More than merely a guide, it is a compass, a set of minimum standards, and most importantly, a restriction on government power. The law will change, but it does not need to change for the worse. It can begin to hearken back to the intent of the makers; to re-discover the legislative intent of those "old white guys" (as they have been mockingly called.) When we rediscover their collective intent, we might be able to rebuild this truly great, truly amazing nation. After elected Obama stated on camera that "the Constitution is a severely flawed document". Why, then, did he swear to uphold, defend, and protect the Unites States Constitution? Would any sane person swear to uphold, protect and defend a document they believed was "severely flawed"? Coons is clearly an idiot who understands nothing about the Constitution, or law in general. Our world views must necessarily influence each of our daily decisions in life. Coon's assertion otherwise is like Bill Clinton's "I smoked some pot but I didn't inhale."

Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Jimmy D said:

How about "The Sophistry of the RNC's Professed Loyalty to Conservatism"...if you want to hear liars, listen to the excuses they're making for hanging Christine O'Donnell out to dry.I, for one, find this the greater betrayal by far.We know what we can expect from the Libs.But this kind of crap from the Republicans represents an absolute invitation that they should be left behind on the dung heap of history. Arrogant B*st*rds. They are angling for poweralone. They are chosing to come close without risking the cigar of victory. They think it'll hurt them in the next cycle, by which time they'll be able to co-opt the Tea Party and win in a two horse race...the Bad Big Gov Dems vs the Good Big Gov Repubs. It's not a choice to be wished for folks!If they want to be the Whigs Again Party, Good luck to them! I will tell the fund raisers who call that I have nothing to give but nails for their political coffin.Notice:RNC. Support the candidacy of Christine O'Donnellwith everything at your disposal or I, one of MANY, will curse the name of your Party forever.

Monday, October 18, 2010 at 12:13 AM

Shel in Alaska said:

I agree with Jimmy D. Any support I give to the Republican party only goes as far as they support my conservative leanings. I felt helpless as I had to stand by and watch GWB increase the size and scope of the federal gov't all in the name of compassionate conservatism. I'm all for being compassionate, but on a personal level, not through the confiscation of my income through taxation. I would have zero problem watching the GOP die if they insist on continuing their Rockefeller Republicanism. November 2 is a great day to begin to take back the party and infuse it with a big dose of conservative principles. However, if they fail to uphold their promises, the backlash to the party will be felt in the years to come.

Monday, October 18, 2010 at 8:27 AM

Heidi said:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for speaking the truth. It's insidious to believe that your religious/ world views would not or shouldn't form the basis of one's beliefs. I teach my children to form their entire view on Christianity! Needless to say it contradicts with most everything the world is telling them. Pray they'll listen to their mother!

Monday, October 18, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Mediaman said:

While not all liars are liberals, it's becoming more than clear that all liberals are liars. Coons is just one more socialist democrat who lies about having respect for the Constitution (there's no such thing as a "today's Constitution") and precedent while willingly ignoring both if it's not "convenient."What's most telling about his actions is that he thinks we can't tell the difference. Nothing sophisticated about that!

Friday, October 22, 2010 at 11:34 PM