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Constitutional Progressives: Taking America's Charter Back From the Tea Party


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


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Constitutional Progressives: Taking America's Charter Back From the Tea Party

Sen. Kerry, Numerous Progressive Organizations Support Effort to Stand Up for the Whole Constitution

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Washington, DC – In a much-needed pushback against tea partiers and other self-proclaimed "constitutional conservatives" who have claimed the Constitution as their own -- trying to turn it into a document that can be distorted to support an ideological agenda -- Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC), in partnership with progressive organizations including the Center for American Progress and People For the American Way Foundation, today launched a new initiative, Constitutional Progressives.

"Today, progressives are taking the Constitution back," said Doug Kendall, founder and president of Constitutional Accountability Center. "There is no greater threat to our values than the tea party's effort to make America's progress unconstitutional. For the first time, progressives now have a coordinated response to this theft of our Nation's Charter. Building on the momentum of thousands of Americans who have already pledged to support the whole Constitution, progressives are taking the fight to the tea party."

"Tea Party leaders are arguing for a vision of the Constitution that would turn back the clock on the accomplishments of the 20th century," said Neera Tanden, Chief Operating Officer of the Center for American Progress. "The conservative vision would undo Social Security and Medicare through the worst form of judicial activism. Constitutional Progressives are fighting that vision with the text of the Constitution itself."

"The Constitution's majestic design is under attack today," said Marge Baker, Vice President at People For the American Way Foundation, "by people who simply ignore the parts that are inconvenient for corporations or don't conform to their particular notion of what 'liberty' means. The 'Whole Constitution,' is the foundation of our core values, and progressives can't let it be diminished to suit the whims of special interests."


Constitutional Progressives will aggressively push back against tea partiers' distortions of the Constitution, particularly when they erroneously attempt to root in the Constitution their ideological positions against an array of important laws and initiatives, including health care reform, Social Security and Medicare, rebuilding our economy, and improving the nation's jobs picture. We will continue to ask every American to stand up for the Constitution by taking the Whole Constitution pledge, as thousands already have, and we are also urging elected officials across America to sign the pledge or reaffirm their oath of office to support and defend the whole Constitution. And perhaps most important, to help restore dignity and accuracy to our national conversation about the Constitution. we are also urging all Americans to talk about the importance and meaning of our Nation's entire Charter, including the Amendments ratified over the last 220 years, which have made our country and our Constitution "more perfect" by eliminating slavery, protecting liberty and equality, expanding the powers of the federal government, and securing voting rights for every adult citizen in America.


Constitutional Progressives is being built around a core partnership among CAC, a leading progressive authority on the Constitution's text and history, Center for American Progress, a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action, and People For the American Way Foundation, one of the country's leading progressive organizations fighting for constitutional values including freedom of speech, religious liberty, and equal justice for all Americans.


Prominent elected leaders are also lining up behind Constitutional Progressives, including former presidential nominee and U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who sent his fellow Senators a "Dear Colleague" letter (pdf) this week supporting Constitutional Progressives and echoing its call for leaders to reaffirm their constitutional oaths of office on Constitution Day – their pledge to support the whole Constitution. We expect the number of leaders echoing Senator Kerry's call to grow considerably.


At the start of a long campaign, Constitutional Progressives has already added many partner organizations, including the Agenda Project, Campus Progress, Equal Justice Society, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, Patriot Majority USA, People For the American Way Foundation's Young Elected Officials Network, and ProgressNow. Constitutional Progressives will be adding to this list of partner organizations in the coming weeks and months, and we are working hard to build an even broader array of organizations in support of our efforts to take back the Constitution. As of this morning, more than 10,000 Americans from across the country have joined the newly launched Constitutional Progressives effort by signing the Whole Constitution Pledge at In addition, Partner groups will be engaging their constituencies around reclaiming and renewing the meaning of the whole Constitution.


Constitutional Accountability Center ( is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution's text and history.