You probably didn't know it, but today is Constitution Day, a federally designated holiday created in 2004 by the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd (D). While no one gets the day off, the law does require all public schools to devote some time to teaching the Constitution on this day each year. The law, impossible to enforce in already overstretched schools, might have died with Byrd if it weren't for the tea party movement. Tea partiers have seized on the congressional mandate to try to force public schools to introduce the movement's version of constitutional history to impressionable youth.
The Tea Party Patriots especially have been working hard over the past six months to pressure school boards and school officials to teach constitutional history as written by Glenn Beck’s favorite author, W. Cleon Skousen, a rabid anti-Communist Mormon whose texts have been knocked for including white supremacist dogma and racist commentary. In Skousen's view, the US was founded as a Christian nation, possibly by descendants of a lost tribe of Israel, a view that might run into trouble in a public school.
It's unclear how many schools have actually taken the plunge, but the tea partiers have been successful in one respect: they've energized a bunch of liberal legal types who have been horrified at the way the tea party and its favorite legislators have been interpreting the Constitution.
To that end, this week, the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center and the People for the American Way Foundation, among others, launched a new project called Constitutional Progressives, with the intent of trying to correct the record. Doug Kendall, one of the main instigators of the project and head of the CAC, said in a conference call this week that they've decided to fight back because, "It seems tea party thinks the entire 20th century is unconstitutional."
The Constiutional Progressives certainly have plenty of material to highlight.