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Constitution, Federalism Intelligently Questioned at Fox News Presidential Forum

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi summed it up best: this was the most that the Constitution was discussed in a 2012 presidential debate.

Bondi joined Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli and Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt as panelists, and Fox News’ Mike Huckabee as moderator, for what should be a model method to test presidential candidates for races to come.

The panelists came loaded with questions to test the candidates about the Constitution, and in particular, the division of power between the federal government and the states, i.e., federalism.

Michele Bachmann, who otherwise did a good job, provided the most disappointing answer of the night. When asked by Ken Cuccinelli how she could square the Constitution with her support for federal tort reform dictating standards for state courts, she had no plausible explanation.

Rick Santorum also failed to square his social conservative positions with the Constitution. While we social conservatives tend to agree with Santorum’s passion for protecting the family, and admire his leadership, he has not yet come to terms with the state-federal dichotomy of what laws may govern these issues.

Rick Perry was going down the right track of using his office to limit the power of the tyrannical Environmental Protection Agency, but he failed to articulate clearly why he could use executive orders – which have been abused by presidents to expand executive power – to slow down the EPA.

Mitt Romney was pretty much gaffe-free, but also didn’t show that he is a constitutional conservative.

Ron Paul, as the constitutional progenitor for recent Republican presidential debates, explained that the Patriot Act was passed as if the Fourth Amendment doesn’t exist. In my opinion, one of the great failings of the conservative movement is its treatment of the Fourth Amendment as the unwanted stepchild in the Bill of Rights.

Paul also explained that America will need to transition back to a government governed by the Constitution.

Paul, however, displayed why his otherwise stellar adherence to the Constitution won’t translate to victory. Asked to square his views with how to defend against terrorism, he brought up how the federal government cannot involve itself in household domestic violence. “Violence happens” isn’t a winning campaign slogan.

Newt Gingrich scored one point in particular, in my opinion, by referencing how the Tenth Amendment reserves power not only to the states, but to the people.

Like a carpenter with a hammer sees all problems as nails, the state AGs on the panel focused on the roles of the states versus the federal government. Gingrich deftly turned this to a populist issue, although his reference to the Tenth Amendment’s reservation of powers to “citizens” was technically wrong (the Tenth Amendment refers instead to “the people”) perhaps to deflect criticisms of his recently announced amnesty position.

All in all, Fox News and Governor Huckabee are to be congratulated for presenting a solid, intelligent and creative format for the presidential primary.

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Violence happens

If we allow the federal gov't to define terrorism as violence, then all violent crimes will be terrorism and the courts will become void except to deal with nonb-violent drug crimes.  Ron Paul is completely correct, let the courts deal with violence.  Let the Federal gov't deal with declared wars.

As a Native American we still

As a Native American we still remember when we were declared the terrorists by the federal government.It was no picnic.Later one of my ancesters served on both sides of the War of Northern Aggression.When half of the country becomes the terrorist where do you stop?What part of the Constitution justifies such decisions?