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How Santorum Fails Constitution 101

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I think Sen. Rick Santorum would make a great community organizer. Unfortunately, we are trying to remove, not re-elect, a community organizer in the White House.

Both Santorum and President Obama have a track record of ignoring the Constitution and implementing their personal ideologies at the federal level.

By incessantly talking about his principles and his seven children, Santorum has convinced some voters that he is more socially conservative than Romney, Paul and Gingrich.

Whoa, hold on. Things are not always what they seem; Obama is a politician who looks and talks like a man of principle. In 2008, Americans perceived him as a leader they could trust to reform society and enforce the law of the land. But Obama’s picture-perfect marriage and family life haven’t stopped him from cheating on the Constitution. Likewise, Santorum’s picturesque family life eclipses his poor track record of upholding the Constitution.

Let’s run through examples of how Santorum imitates Obama’s activist drive to choose ideology over the Constitution:

Constitution 101

Both Obama and Santorum have vocalized their discontent with the U.S. Constitution.

Newsmax reports: “…during a September 2001 Chicago public radio program,” Obama said that the “country’s Founding Fathers had ‘an enormous blind spot’ when they wrote it [the Constitution]. Obama also remarked that the Constitution ‘reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.’”

Santorum routinely trivializes the Constitution and implies that, as president, he would override the Constitution’s own words (like the 10th Amendment) in favor of his personal ideology. He has said that the Constitution isn’t the “end-all, be-all” and he’s implied that reading the Constitution literally could lead to a French-style revolution because our Constitution gives “radical freedom.”

The Founding Fathers did not allow the president to cherry-pick sections of the Constitution to enforce, depending on his or her beliefs. Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution declares the Constitution to be “the supreme law of the land” and Article II, Section 1 states that the President must take an oath to “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Founders specifically forbid the president from legislating or becoming a religious leader à la King Henry VIII, who ordained himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England.


The Constitution states that the president needs to get Congress’ permission to go to war. I’m not sure that Santorum agrees with the Constitution here. In debates, he gives the impression that he thinks it’s the president’s role to lead the nation to war and even authorize assassinations against civilian scientists rumored to be working on a nuclear program. Red flags go off when you notice that Santorum’s approach to foreign policy is nearly identical to Obama’s approach.

In a December, 2011 Fox News debate Santorum said: “…we need to make sure that they [Iran] do not have a nuclear weapon. And we would, should, be working with the state of Israel right now; we should use covert activity and we should be planning a strike against their facilities and say if you do not open up those facilities and not close them down, we will close them down for you.”

He has also said: “I’m hopeful that some of the things we’re seeing with respect to the nuclear program—that the United States is involved with. Which is, on occasion, nuclear scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran will turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing. I think we should send a very clear message that if you are a nuclear scientist from Russia or from North Korea or from Iran and you’re gonna work on the nuclear program to develop a nuclear bomb for Iran, you are not safe. And if people say, well you can’t go out and assassinate people, well, tell that to [Al-]Awlaki. OK? We’ve done it. We’ve done it for an American citizen.”

The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments protect American citizens from being treated like foreign terrorists or denied due process of law. However, Santorum seems to dismiss constitutional due process for American citizens.

Wolf Blitzer recently interviewed Sen. Rand Paul on CNN’s Situation Room and asked Paul to comment on “on the issue of Iran, when it comes to Santorum saying he’s ready to bomb Iran…” Paul responded: “…you want a commander in chief who’s in charge of nuclear weapons who will not use them carelessly, who will not take the nation to war carelessly and who also understands that Congress gets to vote on declaring war; one man should never decide for our country to go to war.”

Birth Control and Abortion

The U.S. Constitution is silent on birth control and abortion. The Tenth Amendment states that all powers not delegated to the federal government remain the rights of the states and individuals.

Reuters reports that Santorum once supported a bill that made exceptions for legal abortion. But, when his position became politically disadvantageous, Santorum switched his stance to be against abortion in all cases.

Santorum attacks Obama’s mandate that insurance companies cover some prenatal testing, saying that these tests can “encourage abortions.” He also attacks Obama’s mandate that insurance companies provide free birth control. Yet, three days before Santorum criticized Obama’s mandate as a violation of religious freedom, he pivoted and told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News:

"The bottom line in my position is very clear. I've had a consistent record on this [issue] of supporting women's right to have contraception. I've supported funding for it. … I actually have been criticized by — I think it was Governor Romney or maybe it was Congressman Paul's campaign for voting for contraception, that I voted for funding for — I think it was Title X — which I have voted for in the past, that provides for free contraception through organizations, even like Planned Parenthood."

Santorum supported funding for Planned Parenthood by supporting a 1996 omnibus spending bill that included funding for Title X Family Planning. He also aggressively campaigned and cut ads for pro-choice politicians like Sen. Arlen Specter over pro-life, fiscal conservatives like Sen. Pat Toomey. Specter won by a slim margin and eventually cast the deciding vote on Obamacare.

Rep. Ron Paul described the constitutional and ethical problems with Santorum’s support for Title X in the Arizona CNN debate on February 22:

"This is a consequence of the fact that the government has control of medical care and medical insurance …the problem is the government is getting involved in things they shouldn’t get involved in, especially at the federal level. …I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills, so you don’t blame the pills. I think it’s sort of like the argument conservatives use all the time about guns: Guns don't kill. Criminals kill. …The pills can't be blamed for immorality of our society.”

“If you voted for Planned Parenthood like the Senator has, you’ve voted for birth control pills. And you literally, because funds are fungible, you literally vote for abortion because Planned Parenthood gets the money. ‘Oh, I’ll buy birth control pills,’ but then they have the money left over to do the abortions, so that’s why you have to have a pretty strong resistance to voting for these bunches of bills put together. Planned Parenthood should get nothing!”

If someone really wants a “law” against contraception, he or she could become a Catholic. Churches are in the business of helping individuals behave morally in their private lives. The federal government, on the other hand, is merely supposed to protect individual freedoms, private property and national security.

Private Property, Free Speech, Sex and Marriage

Per the Constitution, the federal government may not regulate sexual or committed relationships between two consenting adults. Only the states and individuals may do so.

Santorum does not appear to believe that individuals own their own persons or their own homes. Rather, he thinks that the President can dictate how individuals use their bodies and act within their homes. He has said: “There is no such society that I am aware of where we’ve had radical individualism and it succeeds as a culture.” (I would say America is a society where radical individualism has clearly succeeded.)

Santorum told the Associated Press on April 23, 2003: “…if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

This is a troubling statement because the purpose of government is to protect private property—including the right to one’s own body. Santorum seems willing to let the federal government barge into private homes and arrest Americans for sinning.

Obama selectively enforces federal law (think DOMA or federal immigration laws). Likewise, Santorum has warned that, as president, he would not uphold the 10th Amendment. He also seems unwilling to enforce the First Amendment, which bans any “law respecting an establishment of religion” and guarantees the “free exercise” of religion.

Santorum told pollster Dr. Frank Luntz in Iowa on Nov. 19, 2011: “…the idea that the only things that the States are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. …there are folks here who said that ‘states can do this and I won't get involved in that.’ I will get involved in that… as a president.”

Santorum wants to regulate marriage and religious expression with a federal marriage amendment. Per the First and Tenth amendments, the federal government has zero control over our bedrooms and marriages. Ideally, individuals would get married in their own churches and the government would stay out of marriage. However, constitutionally, states may define marriage.


Santorum’s record reveals his penchant for spilling the federal purse. The Club for Growth writes: “[Santorum’s] record is plagued by the big-spending habits that Republicans adopted during the Bush years of 2001-2006.”

Santorum voted to raise the national debt five times, the largest entitlement increase since the 1960’s at $727 billion (via the Prescription Drug Act and Medicare Improvement Act) and doubling the size of the Department of Education (via the No Child Left Behind Act).

Highlights from his voting record:

• May 25, 1995: Voted to increase taxes by $9.4 billion to subsidize student loans

• June 27, 1997: Voted to hike taxes by $2.3 billion for Amtrak

• July 16, 1997: Voted to increase the administrative costs of a government finance institution (OPIC) by 50%

• March 11, 1998: Voted against repealing Clinton's 4.3-cent gas tax

• March 26, 1998: Voted to give $18 billion to the IMF

• April 2, 1998: Voted against paying off the national debt within 30 years

• June 4, 1998: Voted to swap marriage penalty tax relief for fines on tobacco companies

• June 18, 1999: Voted for a $1 billion bailout of the steel industry

• April 5, 2000: Voted to pay down national debt by dipping into Social Security instead of utilizing surpluses

• May 21 and Nov. 15, 2001: Voted (twice) to tax the internet

• February 14, 2006: Voted for a $140 billion asbestos compensation bill

• March 16, 2006: Voted to increase spending on social programs by $7 billion

• May 4, 2006: Voted against transferring $20 million from AmeriCorps to veterans


Show me a major political issue that Santorum approaches constitutionally, and I'll show you a pink dinosaur.

I’m concerned that Santorum would be an activist, “community organizing” president like President Obama. I fear he would sidestep Congress and violate the Constitution’s separation of powers when it comes to entering war and spending federal taxpayer dollars. By selectively ignoring the Constitution in favor of advancing his personal ideology, I’m concerned that he would encroach on the rights of states and individuals.

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