Constitutional Law

Glenn Beck’s Book Discovery Becomes Tea Party Constitutional Inspiration

A constitutional book author who argued international bankers are promoting a one-world government is inspiring some Tea Party candidates, thanks to a Fox News television personality.

The late author, W. Cleon Skousen, is “the constitutional guru of the Tea Party movement,” according to a New York Times magazine column by George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen. Skousen’s book, The 5,000-Year Leap, became a big seller and Tea party favorite after its rediscovery by Glenn Beck, the Fox News host.

Skousen viewed the Constitution as divinely inspired and espoused limited government as a Christian ideal, Rosen writes. Skousen’s ideas appear to have inspired newly elected Tea Party Senator Mike Lee, son of the late solicitor general and a former clerk for then-Appeals Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.

According to Rosen, Lee’s campaign statements suggest he views many federal programs as unconstitutional. Lee has called for dismantling the federal departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, phasing out Social Security, and repealing two constitutional amendments: the 16th Amendment authorizing the federal income tax and the 17th Amendment allowing election of senators by popular vote.

Skousen has argued the establishment clause was intended to bar the federal government from disestablishing state churches rather than to ban federal promotion of religion, Rosen writes. The view may help explain failed Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell’s famous debate question: “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.