Unfortunately, many in Utah’s hard right (including many legislators) accept a twisted and distorted interpretation of the US Constitution. This faulty interpretation is the basis they use to make governing decisions.
The Facts: Much of Utah’s public policy decisions are based on a foundation of a bizarre, almost cult-like, ideological driven, 1960-70’s, revisionist history interpretation of the US Constitution. An interpretation that is accepted by some policy makers as having the same weight as scripture. This view of the constitution often leads to bizarre legislative priorities and conclusions. Yet it is the measuring rod for many state funding and policy decisions.
What they won’t tell you: Much of this ‘constitutional view’ stems from the work of W Cleon Skousen (1913 – 2006) a faith-based political theorist. One of Skousen’s promoters is talk show host Glen Beck. Some of these fringe interpretations of the US Constitution include the bizarre idea that states having no obligation to the US Supreme Court.
They believe that ‘We the People’ means ‘We the States’ with state sovereignty as the most overriding issue in the constitution. (An Articles of Confederation approach to governing.) Then, with that as a philosophical basis, as state leaders, they believe they have sovereignty over both the federal government as well as all the local political institutions below them.
That gobbledygook constitution interpretation is touted by many Utah GOP politicians (or accepted by politicos who are afraid of its purveyors) as THE only possible way to view the constitution. Then, that ‘constitutional’ view underpins most important decisions in the state! Which explains why we have so little support for public schools, no Medicaid Expansion, a phobia about the federal government, an end-of-the-world fatalism, endless futile federal lawsuits, etc.
The Solution: Educate people about the real US constitution. And, refuse to accept the myth of the ‘Skousen constitution’. At every opportunity point it out the truth, that there are many views of the constitution. Skousen’s is just one. And frankly, that one is ideological driven, a fringe view of the US Constitution.