Sharron Angle

  • November 2, 2010
    A number of Tea Party-backed candidates are likely to win congressional seats in today's midterm elections if pundits and polls are correct, and those candidates will bring with them a "radical gun agenda," writes constitutional law scholar and professor Adam Winkler.

    In a recent piece for The Daily Beast, Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, notes that many Tea Party candidates have loudly pushed their economic platforms, which largely consist of vague calls for cuts in government spending. But, he writes, those candidates also harbor strikingly extreme positions on gun rights and gun control.

    Winkler writes:

    In state after state, Tea Party candidates like Rand Paul in Kentucky and Joe Miller in Alaska advocate for the adoption of radical the so-called ‘Firearms Freedom Acts.' These laws, which declare that the federal government has exceeded its constitutional authority by regulating gun sales, are intended to nullify the federal Brady Act, which requires background checks for most gun purchases. Eight states in the throes of Tea Party fervor, including Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota, have already enacted such laws - even though, as a federal court held last month, these laws are clearly unconstitutional.

    Winkler also notes that Tea Party candidates have enthusiastically embraced a group called Gun Owners of America, which was founded by Larry Pratt, who is "usually credited with starting the crazed patriot militia movement in the 1990s." Pratt, as Winkler writes, has criticized the nation's largest gun lobby, the NRA, for not being pro-gun enough.

    These candidates are all about eradicating all gun control laws, there is no middle ground for them, even though many of the candidates claim to worship President Ronald Reagan, the professor continues. (And as Winkler notes, Reagan did support some gun control regulation. He signed a bill as governor of California outlawing people from carrying loaded guns, and "vigorously endorsed the Brady Act.")

    In Nevada, the Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle, again if polls are to be believed is likely to topple Senator Harry Reid, "gave voice to the militia movement's views in January when, in a radio interview, she warned if elections don't force officials like Harry Reid out of office, the people may be forced to turn to Second Amendment remedies."

    For Winkler these candidates are far removed from the mainstream, and he cites ample evidence that what they're really pushing is a revolution.

    Winkler recently talked with ACSblog about gun control regulation in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment, and also his forthcoming book, Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. His interview is available here.

  • October 26, 2010
    The First Amendment's religious liberty clauses, especially the principle they produce that calls for a certain amount of separation between government and religion, are drawing extra-special attention thanks to Tea Party-backed candidates for the Senate.

    The Del. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell appeared, during a debate, to be surprised that the First Amendment has long been interpreted by the courts, as well as constitutional framers James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, to require a separation between government and religion.

    And as The Huffington Post reports the Tea Party favorite in Colorado, Ken Buck, disagrees "strongly" with the principle of the separation of church and state. Like O'Donnell and the Tea Party-backed senate candidate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, and for that matter many religious right advocacy groups, Buck is disconcerted over the fact that the words do not appear literally in the First Amendment.

    But as American University law school professor and Maryland state senator Jamie Raskin points out in this ACSblog post, the principle has been well-established in the federal courts, in part, due to writings by Madison and Jefferson. As Raskin notes, Jefferson wrote that the religious liberty clauses build "a wall of separation between church and state." Madison wrote in 1822 that religion and government "will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."