>I doubt very much that the most ardent members of the Tea Party derive their notions of freedom from the Constitution. Neither do I. Neither, I suspect, do most advocacy groups, right or left. As former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser used to remind us, (and I'm paraphrasing) we were the American Civil Liberties Union, not the American Constitutional Union, meaning that if the First and 14th Amendments were repealed the ACLU would not abandon its belief in free speech and equality (although it would be a lot less capable of protecting them). In fact, the ACLU grew out of opposition to the legalized repression of dissent in the World War I era (often pursuant to the Espionage and Sedition Acts); it was founded in 1920, before the Supreme Court began transforming fundamental liberties -- like freedom of speech -- into constitutional rights.
And not until the mid-20th century, long after adoption of the 14th Amendment, did the Supreme Court discover a constitutional ban on Jim Crow laws, as a result of a long campaign by civil rights activists. Lawyers like Thurgood Marshall successfully crafted legal arguments that turned a vision of equality into a constitutional right, but if the arguments were forged in law school, the vision was not.