Perry's ideal judges would keep their noses out of questions like individual rights and even, remarkably, the functioning of courts. "[T]he states know best how they wish to punish criminals and for what crimes," Perry writes. "[O]ur system works very well, and for Washington, and in particular the Supreme Court, to step in and tell us, or any other state, whether it is right to execute a heinous criminal--or tell us how to carry out justice--is the height of arrogance and disregards federalism at its most basic level." (Note that by these standards even Justice Antonin Scalia is a crazed liberal activist; he has been very insistent that states must preserve, for example, the right to confront hostile witnesses or to have all elements of a crime proved beyond reasonable doubt. )
But editing the existing text, and neutering the Supreme Court, is only the beginning of Perry's constitutional ambitions. Like every other serious Republican candidate, Perry supports the new Balanced Budget Amendment. And an Abortion Amendment. And--after some prodding from the religious right--a federal Marriage Amendment. By the end of his first excursion into the Article V process, then, we will have a federal government that is too feeble to tax or spend in support of its enumerated powers, but freshly empowered to regulate our most intimate relationships; state governments that can nullify the Affordable Care Act but are blocked by federal power from protecting women's reproductive rights.
Next comes repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, ending the income tax forever. And he's not done yet. We also need, he writes, "a 'clarifying' amendment--or series of amendments--to the Constitution. Such an amendment might, for example, clarify the scope and intent of the Fourteenth Amendment. As I have discussed, the Fourteenth Amendment is abused by the Court to carry out whatever policy choices it wants to make in the form of judicial activism."
Perry doesn't spell out all his "clarifications," but it's a pretty good bet that equal protection for women, and the First Amendment prohibition of "establishment of religion," are good candidates for a makeover.
Perry's Constitution has a true antebellum quality. As he explains, "Federalism enables us to live united as a nation . . . while we live in states with like-minded people who share our values and beliefs. . . . If you don't support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don't come to Texas. If you don't like medicinal marijuana or gay marriage, don't move to California." It was precisely this view of American life--that "like minded people" could close their local communities to those who differ --that the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified to destroy.
The Perry Constitution, thus, is as radical as any that has been offered as a serious political program in more than 100 years. It is hostile to national self-government by elected officials, dismissive of the rights of individuals, and contemptuous of the very notion of democracy.
Worse than Perry's doctrines, however, is the psychopathology behind them. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, even the people--if they disagree with Perry, they are traitors. He does not seek dialogue with those who disagree; he wants them gone.