House Minority Leader John Boehner has been trying hard to woo the unruly grassroots activists who make up the Tea Party movement. So far the effort doesn't seem to be going that well, but he is apparently going to keep trying, even it means crossing over into fringe territory. Many Tea Party activists are stalwart believers in the primacy of the Tenth Amendment, that little clause in the Constitution that they see as a powerful bar to federal government overreach. They're using it to fight health care reform, to try to nullify federal gun laws, to launch a host of radical state sovereignty measures, and even to advocate secessionism. For the most part, members of Congress have shied away from this particular element. But on Wednesday, Boehner held a press conference in support of Arizona's draconian new immigration law, and he specifically invoked the Tenth Amendment:
"The people of Arizona have the right under the 10th Amendment to write their own laws -- and they have," Boehner said. "It has a 70 percent approval in Arizona and I think we ought to respect the people of Arizona and everyone should make their own decisions."
But at least one die-hard Tenther wasn't buying Boehner's conversion. Michael Boldin, founder of the California-based Tenth Amendment Center, pointed out in his blog Wednesday that Boehner's track record on Tenth Amendment fealty isn't exactly stellar. He notes that Boehner has voted for a string of federal statutes that Tenth Amendment purists see as massive constitutional violations and illegal federal intrusion into local affairs, including the No Child Left Behind Act, the Real ID Act, the TARP bailouts, as well as the Patriot Act and its reauthorization. Given all that, Boldin concludes:
"it seems pretty clear to me that Boehner, like most of the thugs that occupy D.C. in the name of the people, has almost no respect for the Constitution at all. He just pays it lip service when it serves his purpose."