Congress to be schooled
December 15th, 2010
11:24 AM ET
10 years ago

Congress to be schooled

(CNN) - Constitutional 101 is coming to Congress by way of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia when he leads the first constitutional conservative seminar for members of Congress in late January.

Justice Scalia will lead the first session of the series created by Republican Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, according to Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben.

He said the series is a response to conservative messages delivered during the midterm elections that called for the return to constitutional principles.

The bi-monthly seminars are part of the Tea Party caucus - a group Bachmann helped launch - and will "bring up principles that are already familiar to the members," including the bill of rights and role of government, Sachtleben said.

Bachmann was an avid campaigner during the 2010 elections, enjoying the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and raising her national profile.

In an interview on Lou Dobbs' radio show, Bachmann compared the classes to sports practices.

"We're going to practice every week, if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights," Bachmann said. "We'll have a speaker, we'll have questions and answers, we'll wrap our minds around this magnificent document."

Kathy Arberg, the Supreme Court's public information officer confirmed Scalia accepted the invitation and said he will speak about "Separation of Powers."

Filed under: Antonin Scalia • Congress • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Gary

    I have no problem with training seminars but it would be nice if they were organized and given by someone that actually understood the Constitution. None of those involved in this article exhibit that they have any real knowledge of it. Probably the next speaker will be Rush Limbaugh or some other wackyO that thinks their interpretation of the Constitution is correct.

    December 15, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. opalka10

    I (as a Democrat) also think this is a good thing.
    Because now maybe some of the Tea Baggers will learn what is truly in (and not in ) the Consititution.
    And also that our political system is not SOLELY bound by what is (and what is not) within those words of the Constitution.
    I do hope that ALL members of the Supreme Court get a chance, instead of the right-leaning ones only.

    December 15, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Sgt Joe

    Unbelievable! This is a blatent waste of taxpayer money. These people should be required to know this stuff from the get go; shame on them. I believe Obama taught constitutional law at one time. But, the Obama haters just can't wrap themselves up in that fact.

    December 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. They Need All The Instruction They Can Get

    Congress needs someone to expalin the truth of the Constitution, as the Founding Fathers intended rather than some Liberal trying to tell everyone what the "think ti should say".....Go get em Bachmann, the real America is behind you!

    December 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. E1atoM

    This from the person that wanted the media to investigate members of congress for "unAmerican activities"? Michele Bachmann is a Joseph McCarthy in drag. The Twin Cities State Twit should be made to sit at the front of the class and write every article of the constitution on the board 100 times, and maybe, and that's a big MAYBE, she might learn what's in our constitution. But seriously now, shouldn't the members of congress know the constitution before they get elected in? This is like closing the barn door after horses and cows have left.

    December 15, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Americans for Tea Party

    Go Michelle, go! We got your back!

    December 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Matt

    Couple of things...

    Someone on here mentioned that individuals who run for political positions should have to take a government test and score at least 90% to be eligible to take office. If that's the route you want to go, then why stop there? Why not demand that every individual who wants to vote for political positions should also take the test, and if they don't score at least a 90%, they cannot vote? If you truly believe in democracy, then people should get to vote for whomever they please. That theory goes in stride with Jim Crow laws back in the day that deliberately tried to stop former slaves from the ability to vote.

    Many on here have pointed out that the government and the constitution are things our politicians should already know about. Many are deducing that the individuals on the "Right" who will be attending these things need to do so because they must be idiots. It is sad that we have come to the conclusion that further education and explanation of our freedoms is looked on as bad thing...or only for the dumb. It reminds me of the stereo-typical story of "jocks" making fun of "neds" who actually enjoy education. Or more so of individuals who think they know everything because they got an A in a class making fun of those individuals who got a B. "Silly poor scorers, you must be stupid that you have to go back and restudy what you didn't know before." Seems weird that this would be an attacking point for some people.

    Additionally, government practice in its basic judicial form is conservative. Many of you are mixing Government Conservatism with Political Conservatism. The difference is that government conservatism is the practice of following the laws, guidelines, and beliefs of the current government system. True political conservatism, as it is practiced in the US, is the practice of attempting to lead government into smaller government involvement in the citizenry's personal lives...including taxes, laws, and mandates. Currently, this practice is currently lost on both the Republican and Democrat parties as they have both wandered away from their true conservative roots into activist parties pushing for the lobbyists that support each of them. Not too long ago, liberal and conservative sects existed in both parties and would often temper the wars of the two party system as these sects would often side with the other party if they found the policies to be congruent with their own. Unfortunately the witch hunts within each party over the past 50 years has lead us to the current state of a country torn in 2.

    Now... it leads one to wonder why there has not been a push by both sides in our political system to also educate themselves on the Constitution and our current government. I don't understand why it has to come from a political idealogy, but just as classes are intended to be. We give these individuals immense power and money to do their job, but from many of these politicians we see little action. I say we shold have government, Constitution, and Declaration classes mandatory for all of our leaders. And we should post their scores on their tests so the world can see. We should demand the highest expectations from our leaders.

    December 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Mevjr

    Somehow it just seems wrong to me that a Justice of the Supreme Court should be involved in a clearly partisan activity such as this. He might as well be identified in the press as Scalia, Supreme Court (R). A condition of membership in the SUpreme Court of the United States should be a forebearance of partisan political activities. He should recues himself from any further cases that involve the political parties and their positions. (That would end up being the majority of them, a good thing for the country.)

    Can't we just impeach this lying, activist judge?

    December 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. RichColorado

    Ok, He makes $213,900 a year. This class could be taught by a Professor at George Washington University just a few blocks a way. I am sure there are any number of relevant classes on constitutional law, that would provide both sides of the arguments.

    I don't think this is in their job description, and clearly raises a conflict of interest. Congress and the Supreme Court are not supposed to be having tea with each other.

    December 15, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. VM

    If they want to study the Constitution fine. As long as they realize that it is not a perfect document, and that it can be improved upon. It is not the word of God. It is a starting point that can be used as a springboard for progress.

    December 15, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. tony

    Banana Republic here we come!!!

    December 15, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Mike

    If Scalia wants to be a politician he should first resign as a justice. This gives the appearance of bias and I wonder if he will be recusing himself in future cases.

    December 15, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Americans for Tea Party

    Hey Connie in Texas.....where in Texas are you?? Because you do not sound like any Texacan I know!
    Go back to Ca or NY or wherever you are really from!

    December 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. Jackie

    Let us not forget this is the Justice who wrote the opinion that proof of innocence is no bar to execution as long as procedures were followed correctly. Now we have him teaching conservatives how to get around the Constitution. Maybe it's time to live on an island somewhere...

    December 15, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Take America Back From The Libs

    Why are all you Libs on this blog so angry?? UUUUMMMM could it be you because you lost?

    December 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. E1atoM

    @Gary: Right on the money! You forgot Glenn Peck[sic], who would also make an excellent lecturer with his blackboard etc. Zilcho of a college degree but a fine lecturer indeed!

    December 15, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Lynne

    jeff, alabama – The reason we liberals have a problem with conservatives learning about the constitution now is that they really should have learned about it BEFORE they got the job....not that is stupid. I would never have gotten my job if I didn't know how to do it....what about you?????

    December 15, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. Don Beal

    Return to the Constitutional principles? Two hundred twenty-five years have passed. It is hardly the same world. When the Constitution was written, a crazed killer would have to go about it with an axe or a single-shot muzzle-loaded weapon. Now, a crazed killer can get semi-automatic weapons, evidently convertible to automatic, a gear-bag with additional weapons and all the ammo he can carry and get to work. Apply the second amendment to the 21st century and think how that should work out. I'm pretty sure that even Alexander Hamilton and James Madison would not be that enthusiastic about the mass killing of American citizens. How about pornography? Then it was most likely some sort of crudely drawn picture of a partially dressed woman done with a quill pen. Now? Not the same. Immigration? Some Europeans sailing to America along with some Africans who were not quite so happy to be making the trip. Now just about anyone can get anywhere within a few hours by plane or in a couple of weeks on a huge cargo ship. The differences between then and now are staggering. Imagine Americans of today, who find some sort of reasonable solution to the debt crisis faced by the United States to be an insurmountable problem, writing laws for the America of 2235. Right!

    And I also agree with those who question Antonin Scalia as a reasonable interpreter of Constitutional law. He is a right-winger who would present a view of the Constitution as balanced as Fox news does of current affairs.

    December 15, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  19. thomas

    Could be worse ,
    Bachmann , Scalia , Thomas, singing there version of Its a wonderful world !

    December 15, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Barton Funk

    I feel that this is not proper – a sitting justice commenting on what or what is not constitutional. Scalia and Breyer seem to do this a lot. I'd hope that they would refrain since they should not be commenting on issues that come before the court. They can choose to resign or retire and then speak al they want on these issues. But, this seems improper.

    December 15, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Marcus

    Nor Liberals (or progressive or whatever) nor Conservatives have all the (right and proper) answers for everything.
    How could they?
    We're all humans and if an human being claims that he is perfect and is always right about any and everything, and is true at heart at that, he/she is either a lunatic (and a potential dangerous one at that) or is just an idiot.
    The problem with a 'constitutional conservative seminar for members of Congress' is NOT that they will go have classes about the Constitution, nor with the fact that they will have (more than just likely) only the Conservative approach of the Constitution explained/showed to the them...
    If for nothing else, supposing that this seminar is open to the media, ALL OF US will know what they think about the Constitution and what they think about the extention/limitation of the rights and obligations that are present in it...
    The problem is WHO they will call to give the classes at the seminar.
    Alito or Roberts would have been bether than Scalia, I disagree with what they say but at least they don't spin older rulings in order to say 'See, I am not the only one that thinks like that', but if Scalia if the first, then who will the seond or third?
    That judge from Virginia who forgot to admit that he had PERSONAL and PRIVATE reasons to give his illogical ruling of a few days ago?

    December 15, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    She also scheduled idiots like "Professor" Barton, who appeared on Glen Beck's "Beck University" nonsense to tell the "class" that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are just a collection of the sermons people were hearing at church during that time period and that, therefore, we are clearly supposed to incorporate the Bible and Christian dogma into our laws. It's a FARCE.

    December 15, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "Does this IDIOT know that the CROOKED Party she backs TRAMPLED THE CONSTITITION for 8 STRAIGHT YEARS?"

    No, of course not. She andthe "news' media follow one overriding rule before and above all others: IOKIYAR.

    December 15, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. O

    In law school, we learned that judges, especially Supreme Court justices, are apolitical. Well, we should all know by now that is not true. Scalia has no business leading a Republican-endorsed seminar.

    Shame on you Scalia

    December 15, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  25. kmp

    Scary very scary. I cannot say anything else.

    December 15, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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