Constitutional rights are 'absolute,' say Republicans who want to gut voting rights


The Second Amendment is apparently the only one that matters.

House Republicans are outraged that President Joe Biden said Thursday the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights are not "absolute." But many of the same lawmakers have backed efforts that impinge on the constitutionally protected right to vote.

As he announced some executive actions to curb gun violence, Biden noted that none of them "in any way impinges on the Second Amendment."

"They're phony, arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we're talking about. But no amendment — no amendment to the Constitution is absolute," he observed. "You can't yell 'fire' in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech."

"The Second Amendment is absolute," tweeted Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. "Anyone who says otherwise is a tyrant."

"You are wrong, Mr. President. Our Constitution and amendments are the law of the land, and they shall not be infringed," wrote Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain.

"SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED, JOE!" scolded Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted a photo of herself aiming a rifle, with the words, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed!

Reps. Randy Feenstra of Iowa, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Bob Good of Virginia, Diane Harshbarger of Tennessee, and several others also shared portions of the Second Amendment in an attempt to counter Biden's comments.

But Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee for eight years, is correct that the courts have consistently allowed some limits to constitutional rights, especially for the time, place, and manner they are exercised.

Biden noted that since the earliest days of the Second Amendment, "you couldn't own any weapon you wanted to own" and "certain people weren't allowed to have weapons." The Supreme Court has allowed bans on some assault weapons, for example.

Biden's orders Wednesday included a review of federal policies relating to homemade "ghost guns" and modified pistols and a call for the Justice Department to recommend model state legislation for red-flag laws to temporarily disarm those judged to be a risk to themselves or others. Even Donald Trump backed some limitations on ghost guns and red flag legislation, though he abandoned most of his promises to curb gun violence.

While Republicans are taking an absolute view of the right to bear arms, they have not taken a similar position on other constitutional rights.

While the right to vote was not initially part of the Constitution, it has subsequently been protected through multiple amendments.

But the Republican National Committee platform embraces strict voter identification laws and other suppressive restrictions on that right. Just one House Republican voted to reinstate voting rights protections in December 2019. Zero voted for the pro-voting rights For the People act on March 4.

And many of the same folks attacking Biden on gun rights have expressly defended attacks on voting rights.

"Voter ID is NOT voter suppression, it STOPS VOTER FRAUD," claimed Greene on April 1.

"Voter ID is a no brainer, and it's supported by 3/4 of Americans. Yet, Socialist Democrat elected officials oppose it," tweeted Brooks on March 30.

More than 11,000 people have already died in 2021 from gun deaths, according to Gun Violence Archive data.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.