Tea-ing up the Constitution


c.2010 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON - Brash and young though it is, the Tea Party movement has already added something distinctive to contemporary political discourse. It has made the Constitution central to the national conversation.

The content of the movement's understanding of the Constitution is not always easy to nail down, and it is almost always arguable. But it certainly includes particular attention to the Constitution's constraints on federal power (as reflected in the limited list of powers granted to Congress in Article I and reserved to the states and the people in the 10th Amendment) and on government power generally (the Second Amendment's protection of gun rights, the Fifth Amendment's limits on the government's taking of private property).

Not a few constitutional scholars say that it is possible to quarrel with the particulars while welcoming the discussion.