Kathryn Lopez

Washington recently began a debate about whether there should be federal government action taken to change the American palate, so that consumer taste buds can adjust to the mandatory use of less salt. And John Loughlin, a candidate for Congress who recently visited my office with a copy of the Constitution, was not amused.

Loughlin, who is running as a Republican in Rhode Island, looked and looked in our nation's founding document. But he couldn't really find where fiddling with food fell in the scope of the government's business.

Loughlin is running for the seat currently occupied by the retiring Patrick Kennedy. Conveniently, Loughlin's dog-eared Constitution had "compliments of Rep. Patrick Kennedy" stamped on it. Everywhere I go some group seems to be handing a copy out. The Constitution, it seems, is the hottest ticket in town.

When I was talking to people and snapping pictures at a recent Tea Party, I ran into a man sitting and reading a Heritage Foundation pocket-sized version. At a cocktail party in Northern Virginia this week, I was handed another one from the American Civil Liberties Union. The list goes on.

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And then there are the Turner women, who are all about "We the People."

Juliette Turner, the 12-year-old daughter of actress Janine Turner, a cast member on NBC's "Friday Night Lights," read the Constitution over spring break.

"I heard Sarah Palin say at a Tea Party that we need to educate ourselves about our government. And I asked, 'how'?" Janine told me of the inspiration to read and discuss the Constitution with her daughter. The senior Turner's answer to the question she posed is Constituting America. It's a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to reach, educate and inform America's youth and her citizens about the importance of the Constitution" and the rights it enshrines and protects.

Who is devaluing these rights? Well, just look around. In the "comprehensive" federal legislation pouring out from our nation's capital, it's freedom that gets sacrificed: Compelling abortion funding while trying to hide it in health-care "reform"; a banking "reform" bill which, "as it exists, now, is a change in our philosophy as a country," as Rep. Spencer Bachus, a Republican from Alabama, recently explained it to me.

Turner, like many a Tea Partier, understands such issues: "I'm afraid that our government seems to be infringing on too many areas of our life."

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.