Caroline Frederickson

  • July 3, 2012

    by John Schachter

    When my son was maybe six years old, he learned an important life lesson: when you start an apology with the words, “I’m not really sorry,” it doesn’t count as an apology. Unfortunately, in his almost 63 years, Bill O’Reilly has yet to grasp that valuable rule.

    In late March, when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, O’Reilly had ACS President Caroline Fredrickson on his show to “discuss” the issue. Much of the so-called discussion consisted of O’Reilly condescendingly lecturing Fredrickson with faulty analysis, but she was able to calmly explain how the taxing power could very well support the law’s constitutionality.

    O’Reilly staked his ground (and reputation) quite clearly when he said, “Ms. Fredrickson, you are going to lose and your arguments are specious … and it's going to be 5 to 4. And if I'm wrong, I will come on, and I will play your clip, and I will apologize for being an idiot.”

    When he returned to his show from vacation four days after the high court’s ruling, O’Reilly addressed the issue, which mainstream and social media representatives had been highlighting for days.

    I’m not really sorry,” he opened.

    “But I am a man of my word,” O’Reilly continued, showing no apparent recognition of the irony. “So I apologize for not factoring in the John Roberts situation. Truthfully, I never in a million years would thought the chief justice would go beyond the scope of the commerce clause to date and into taxation. I may be an idiot for not considering that.”

    (Childhood translation: “Billy, tell your sister you’re sorry.” “OK. I’m sorry … that she’s such a jerk.”)

  • January 27, 2011
    Rep. Michele Bachmann, founder of the House's Tea Party Caucus, is pushing a lopsided view of the U.S. Constitution, scuttling what could be an instructive moment of constitutional discussion, writes ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson.

    In a piece for The Huffington Post, Fredrickson (pictured) notes that the nation is in the midst of a moment that "offers a tremendous opportunity to ensure that lawmakers, and all Americans, become more familiar with the genius and richness of our Constitution. No group or person has or should have the ability to corner the market on constitutional interpretation."

    But Bachmann's first "Conservative Constitutional" gathering featured Justice Antonin Scalia, suggesting the congresswoman is far from interested in advancing a broad discussion of the Constitution. Instead, Fredrickson says Bachmann is all about promoting the Tea Party's limited embrace of the Constitution.

    Fredrickson writes:

    That cramped version of the Constitution envisions a founding document frozen in time and incapable of applying to today's society, and the many changes our nation has gone through. Indeed this week's first conservative constitution class featured Justice Antonin Scalia, a leading proponent of "originalism," a philosophy that says the Constitution should be read and applied in precisely the manner as the framers would intend, without considering the changes to our society. Originalism is a result-oriented approach to judging that typically allows a judge to reach right-wing results antithetical to the values held by our society.

    Fredrickson's article notes that she has sent letters to Rep. Bachmann and House Speaker John Boehner offering an array of resources and experts to help broaden lawmakers' discussion of the Constitution.