Tea parties issue demands to Tennessee legislators
Among 5 priorities, state group wants kinder treatment of Founding Fathers in history courses
* By Richard Locker
* Memphis Commercial Appeal
* Posted January 13, 2011 at midnight
NASHVILLE — Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”
About two dozen tea party activists held a news conference, then met with lawmakers individually to present their list of priorities and “demands” for the 2011 legislative session that opened Tuesday.
Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.”
That would include, the documents say, that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”
The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curricula, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.
“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds, whose website identifies him as a Vietnam War veteran of the Air Force and FedEx retiree who became a lawyer in 1995.
The group also wants the state legislature to reject key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 as “an insult to Constitutional principles.”
The activists also said they want legislators to either start the process of amending the state Constitution to provide for the popular election of the state attorney general or to create a separate position of solicitor general who is directly elected by voters and with much of the litigation authority now vested with the attorney general.
In Tennessee, the attorney general is appointed by the state Supreme Court.
The group’s printed material says the attorney general has reflected “views of the U.S. Constitution that conflict with those of the people of Tennessee.” It specifically says the current attorney general, Robert Cooper, has rejected “the call of the people and the General Assembly” to join with other states in contesting the constitutionality of “federal mandates, including ‘Obamacare.’”
The priorities also include terminating state subsidies for unfunded or unconstitutional federal mandates, and “enforcing constitutional law.”
Later Wednesday, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign said repealing the federal health reforms would mean repealing protections the law gives consumers against insurance companies.
Contact Nashville Bureau chief Richard Locker at (615) 255-4923.