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When It Comes To Liberty, Michele Bachmann Knows It When She Sees It

4:30 PM, Sep 6, 2011 • By ADAM J. WHITE
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If Bachmann and others want to employ the Constitution, either through Congress or the courts, as a direct check on state power, then their position has deep Republican roots.  The Fourteenth Amendment was, after all, one of the first great accomplishments of the Republican Party, and conservatives invoked its authority against state regulation through the Progressive Era.

But that strategy, if successful, would have serious consequences.  First and foremost, it would give unelected judges -- or, as Bachmann has called them, "black-robed masters" -- immense power over state and local communities.  Which is the more disconcerting prospect: states imposing inappropriate laws, or federal courts sitting in judgment of the states?

In the Tea Party era, that question is no longer as simple as it once seemed.

Adam J. White is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

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