Constitution Party (United States)
|The Constitution Party|
|Founded||1992as U.S. Taxpayers' Party, 1999 as Constitution Party|
|Headquarters||23 North Lime St., Lancaster, PA 17602|
|Political position||Radical right|
|Colors||Red, white, and blue|
|Seats in the Senate|
|Seats in the House|
|State Upper House Seats|
|State Lower House Seats|
|Other elected offices||11 (2014)|
|Politics of United States
|Part of a series on|
in the United States
The party believes that the United States is a Christian nation founded on the basis of the Bible and that jurisprudence should be restored to what the party claims is its "Biblical foundations". It has been described by its critics as a theocratic party, as with its predecessor, the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The Constitution Party advocates a platform which reflects the Party's understanding of the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bible, and the Bill of Rights.
The party was founded as the "U.S. Taxpayers' Party" by Howard Phillips in 1991. Phillips was also the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections. The party's name was changed to the Constitution Party in 1999; however, some state affiliate parties are known under different names. The party's platform is predicated on the party's understanding of the original intent of the nation's founding documents. The party absorbed the American Independent Party, which was founded for George Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign. The Constitution Party receives substantial support from Christian Right organizations and claims to be the "philosophical home" of the Tea Party. The Constitution Party candidate, former congressman Tom Tancredo, came in second place in the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election with 36.43% of the vote, ahead of Republican Dan Maes with 11.13%. In 2006, Rick Jore, of the then recently disaffiliated Constitution Party of Montana, was elected to the Montana House of Representatives with 56.2% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jeanne Windham.
- 1 Historic "Constitution Parties"
- 2 Affiliated organizations
- 3 Recent changes in affiliation
- 4 Platform
- 5 Notable members and allies
- 6 Past presidential tickets
- 7 Electoral results
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Historic "Constitution Parties"
A number of conservative parties calling themselves the "Constitution Party" have existed in the United States. In 1952-1953, Upton Close, Robert R. McCormick and other supporters of Joseph McCarthy discussed the formation of a party in support of Senator McCarthy's ambitions to reach the White House. It is sometimes referred to as the "Constitution Party" and sometimes as the "American Party"
White supremacist, Christian Identity theorist, and Posse Comitatus founder, William Potter Gale, was California's "state chairman of the Constitution Party" in 1957, and their candidate for Governor of California in 1958.
Another early iteration of the party, the Constitution Party of Wisconsin, was an affiliate of the American Independent Party (AIP), which ran candidates in the 1980, 1982, and 1984 elections. The Wisconsin party appointed James Wickstrom as a representative to the National Committee of the AIP. The current Wisconsin Constitution Party chapter does not comment on any connection (or lack thereof) between the two organizations.
The following table displays select Constitution Party state affiliate parties, chapters, and organizations.
All affiliates state in their platforms support for strict adherence to the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. Many also specifically add their home state constitutions to the mix.
|State||Affiliate Name||Headquarter City||Chapter Chairperson||Year Chapter founded||Comments|
|Alabama||Constitution Party of Alabama (CPAL)||Joshua Cassity|
|Alaska||Alaska Constitution Party||J.R. Myers||The Alaskan Independence Party, an affiliate in the past, was no longer as of January 2013.|
|Arizona||Constitution Party of Arizona||Glendale||Bob Haran||1992||Strongly advocates for the Right to Life, the Second Amendment, immigration control and enforcement, lower taxes, and the repeal of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).|
|Arkansas||Constitution Party of Arkansas (CPAR)||Fayetteville|
|California||American Independent Party||Marysville||Disputed||April 1967||From 1992 until 2008, the party was the California Constitution Party affiliate; it is now split.|
|Colorado||American Constitution Party||Arvada||July 23, 2000||The American Constitution Party's 10%-plus vote-share in the 2010 gubernatorial election elevated the party from "minor" to "major" status. (Any party that earns 10% or more of the votes cast for governor is a defined under statute as a "major party.")|
|Connecticut||Constitution Party of Connecticut||Plantsville||Rick Moreau||1976||Predates the founding of Constitution Party (founded in the mid-1970s). Previously known as the Concerned Citizens Party, which disbanded in April 2013.|
|Delaware||Constitution Party of Delaware (CPDE)||Bear||Pell Sherman|
|Florida||Constitution Party of Florida||Hollywood||Bill Wayland|
|Georgia||Constitution Party of Georgia||Woodstock||Candice Wallace|
|Idaho||Constitution Party of Idaho||Coeur d'Alene||Ray Writz||1999||It is one of two minor political parties (along with the Libertarian Party of Idaho) which has ballot access in Idaho.|
|Illinois||Illinois Constitution Party (CPIL)||Metropolis||Randy Stufflebeam||The party's first popularly elected official is Phil Collins, elected Trustee of Libertyville Township in Lake County, Illinois on April 9, 2013.|
|Indiana||Constitution Party of Indiana (CPIN)||Evansville||Steven Walker|
|Iowa||Constitution Party of Iowa||Eldon|
|Kansas||Constitution Party of Kansas||Wichita|
|Kentucky||Constitution Party of Kentucky||Lexington||Mike Ward|
|Louisiana||Constitution Party of Louisiana||Lafayette||Ronnie Broughton|
|Maryland||Marylanders for Constitutional Governance||Rockville||before 1996||In 2008, the party was recognized by the Maryland State Board of Elections as an official party. Candidates had ballot access in every presidential election from 1996 to 2008.|
|Massachusetts||Constitution Party of Massachusetts||Framingham||Scott Liftman|
|Michigan||U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan||1992||Kept the "Taxpayers' Party" name in order to retain ballot status in the state. The party is one of six 'ballot-qualified' parties in Michigan. The ballot line on which the party ran in its initial election (1992) was that of the "Tisch Independent Citizens' Party."
In 2010 several officers, including board members and the Communications Officer, left the party over a gubernatorial candidate scandal. The party's candidate for governor did not deny visiting a nudist resort. Reports were that she took part in an attempt to set the world record for "Skinny Dip Across North America."
|Minnesota||The Constitution Party of Minnesota||The national party's paleoconservative affiliate in Minnesota|
|Mississippi||Constitution Party of Mississippi||Guntown,||Vince Thornton|
|Missouri||Constitution Party of Missouri||Buffalo|
|Montana||Constitution Party of Montana||Lisa Wamsley||Founded as an arm of the American Heritage Party; changed its name in 2000. Affiliated with national Constitution Party 1995–July 2006; and May 14, 2011–present. Rick Jore became the first party member to get elected to the state legislature in 2006, and was later appointed chairman of the House Education Committee .|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Party||Omaha||Had changed its name to "The Nebraska Independent Party," and then back to "Nebraska Party." The party had candidates for state-wide offices placed on ballots from 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.|
|Nevada||Independent American Party of Nevada||Elko||John Wagner||1967||Is one of four Constitution state parties that has not changed its name to "Constitution Party" since the national party adopted that name. It is not to be confused with the national party of the same name. The Nevada IAP's name predates the national Constitution Party by decades.|
|South Carolina||Constitution Party of South Carolina||Ted Adams||Has achieved ballot access for its presidential candidate in every presidential election from 1992 to 2012.|
|South Dakota||Constitution Party of South Dakota||Brandon|
|Tennessee||Constitution Party of Tennessee||Germantown||Zachary Poskevich|
|Texas||Constitution Party of Texas||Bob Eoff||1996||Started under the auspices of the U.S. Taxpayers' Party—the precursor to the Constitution Party— under which it achieved its only ballot line, in 1996|
|Utah||Constitution Party of Utah||Layton||Bryce Hamilton||One of only three political parties guaranteed ballot access in Utah for the 2008 elections|
|Washington||Constitution Party of Washington||Spokane Valley||Robert W. Peck||before 1996||The original name of this branch was the "Washington U.S. Taxpayers' Party;" with the name changed to the "American Heritage Party" in 1998; and to its current name in 2000.|
|West Virginia||Constitution Party of West Virginia||Martinsburg||October 2000||The party was organized on June 12, 2004, at its first formal meeting in Morgantown. West Virginia election law requires that a candidate for governor win at least 1% of the entire gubernatorial vote to secure his or her nominating party's future ballot access. Until such time, the affiliation of voters is not formally recognized as a political party.|
|Wisconsin||Constitution Party of Wisconsin||1991||Founded as a unit of the U.S. Taxpayers Party.|
|Wyoming||Constitution Party of Wyoming||Hartville||Jennifer Young||2010|
Recent changes in affiliation
In January 2013, Oregon re-affiliated with the national party. The Constitution Party of Montana re-affiliated with the national party in 2011. According to the party website, since November 2012, the Alaskan Independence Party has not been an affiliate.
The Nebraska Party
The stated mission of the Nebraska Party is: "...to restore economic prosperity to all Nebraskans, to restore the Christian Principles of our Forefathers, and to get the Government back in the hands of the people. The Nebraska Party is founded on the principles of the Democrat-Republican Party, which was established in the early 1800s by Thomas Jefferson. The Democrat-Republican Party, now the Nebraska Party, represents the people, the working people (labor), family farmers, small business and, of course, our senior citizens".
The Constitution Party branches in North Carolina and several other states adhere to what they proclaim as the "Seven Essential Core Values." These core values are defined as: the Sanctity of Life, Religious Freedom, Traditional Family, Private Property Rights, Pro-Second Amendment, National Sovereignty, and Anti-Socialism. The party claims to be the state's only truly 100% Pro-Life political party.
West Virginia affiliate's fight
The origins of the state party can be traced to October 2000, when founding member Brenda Donnellan and activists from Wood County served as plaintiffs in Phillips v Hechler, civ 6:00-894. This litigation resulted in a November 3, 2000, ruling against then Secretary of State Ken Hechler, forcing him to allow Constitution Party presidential nominee, Howard Phillips, to run as a declared write-in (WI) candidate without paying a filing fee.
The 1964 Constitution Party presidential nominee, Joseph B. Lightburn, was a neighbor of Donnellan's in Jane Lew, where he owned a local general store. Lightburn served as National Committeeman for the Constitution Party of West Virginia, but the original party had long been defunct. There was no connection between the two.
- Voter registration issues
Because the party has not yet attained ballot qualification status, voters registering into it must check the "Other Party" box on the West Virginia voter registration form and write the word "Constitution" on the line. Voter registration status can be checked on at the Secretary of State's website.
Because the Constitution Party is not a major party in the state, its voters are permitted to vote in the primary but must take the initiative to ask for either a Republican or Democrat party ballot in lieu of the standard non-partisan ballot.
In early 2006, Christopher H. Hansen, the gubernatorial candidate of Independent American Party of Nevada (the former Constitution Party state affiliate in Nevada), and candidates in Colorado and Idaho, publicly expressed support for allowing abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and for those performed to save the life of the mother, a contrary view to the official Nevada platform. At the party's April 2008 national convention in Tampa, Florida, the assembly voted not to disaffiliate Nevada, citing that affiliate's official position on the issue and the national party's policy against dictating the internal affairs (such as electing leaders) of any affiliate. They also made it more difficult to introduce a disaffiliation resolution. The Oregon and Montana affiliates voluntarily disaffiliated from the party later that year. The Constitution Party of Nevada was created on October 15, 2013, in response to the controversies.
Mergers and re-alignments discussed
Reports that the Constitution Party discussed a realignment or merger with several third parties, including the Reform Party, Independent American Party, American Independent Party, and the America First Party, have been refuted by some of the purported discussion participants. Nevertheless, all of the aforementioned parties, except for the Reform Party, endorsed Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party as their presidential candidate in 2004.
The preamble of the Constitution Party platform "gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States," and supports the Constitutional provision in Article VI, Section 3 that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States" and calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with them in the pursuit of their goals.
The Constitution Party's website states that it "is the philosophical home of the TEA Party, where candidates who are committed to the same constitutional principles as most TEA Party groups can run for office without opposition from within their own party" and encourages "Constitution Party leadership and candidates to work with local TEA Party and other like-minded groups to re-establish the American Constitutional Republic in their communities and states."
The Constitution Party supports reducing the role of the United States federal government through cutting bureaucratic regulation, reducing spending, and replacing the income tax with a tariff-based revenue system supplemented by excise taxes. The party also takes the position that the "imposition … of Federal income, payroll, and estate taxes … is an unconstitutional Federal assumption of direct taxing authority." 
Social Security phase-out
The Constitution Party favors a non-interventionist foreign policy. It advocates reduction and eventual elimination of the role the United States plays in multinational and international organizations such as the United Nations, and favors withdrawal of the United States from most current treaties, such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the World Trade Organization. The party takes mercantilist positions in supporting protectionist policies on international trade.
The party also believes in exercising a tariff system to counteract the United States' increasingly negative balance of trade. The tariff system would levy additional import costs, the amount of which would vary proportionally with how much lower the exporting country's production costs are compared to that of U.S. companies.
The party opposes illegal immigration and seeks stricter controls on legal immigration. It demands that the federal government implement an immigration policy disqualifying potential immigrants on grounds of ill health, criminality, low morals, or financial dependence, believing that they would impose an improper burden on the United States. The party has stated a long term goal of a moratorium on future immigration, with exceptions only for extreme cases of necessity.
The party opposes welfare subsidies and other taxpayer-supported benefits to illegal immigrants. It rejects the practice of bestowing U.S. citizenship on children born to illegal immigrant parents while in this country (jus soli), and rejects any extension of amnesty to illegal immigrants. The Constitution Party calls for the use of the United States military to enforce the strict immigration policy.
Our support of a State's option to impose the death penalty is limited to those who have been convicted of capital crimes. This is consistent with protecting innocent life because the death penalty would only be applied to those who have proven to be a threat to innocent life.
The party opposes same-sex marriage, and believes state and local governments have the right to criminalize "offensive sexual behavior." The party also opposes pornography, believing it to be "a destructive element of society resulting in significant and real emotional, physical, spiritual and financial costs to individuals, families and communities," and distinguishable from the US citizen's "cherished First Amendment right to free speech." While expressing its belief in the individual responsibility of citizens and corporations, the party maintains that government plays a "vital role" in establishing and maintaining the highest level of decency in America's community standards. The party opposes all government sponsorship, involvement in, or promotion of gambling, and in keeping with the spirit of Article 1 Section 8 and Amendment 10, opposes federal anti-drug laws, while conceding that the federal government may have a role in limiting the import of drugs.
The party supports the right to bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment. The party believes that any attempt to make laws barring the second amendment is unconstitutional. It has taken a stand against the Patriot Act.
The Constitution Party believes that charitable giving is most effective when conducted by private parties. Because the authority to administer charity has not been granted to the government in the Constitution, the party maintains that the government has no business being involved in such endeavors. The party opposes federal restrictions on, or subsidization of, medical treatments.
The party supports English as the official language for all governmental business, opposes bilingual ballots, and insists that those who wish to take part in the electoral process and governance of the U.S. be required to read and comprehend basic English as a precondition of citizenship. The party also opposes the federal Voting Rights Act.
The party believes that "it is our responsibility to be prudent, productive, and efficient stewards of God’s natural resources." With respect to global warming, it says that "globalists are using the global warming threat to gain more control via worldwide sustainable development." According to the party, eminent domain is unlawful because "under no circumstances may the federal government take private property, by means of rules and regulations which preclude or substantially reduce the productive use of the property, even with just compensation."
In regards to energy, the party calls attention to "the continuing need of the United States for a sufficient supply of energy for national security and for the immediate adoption of a policy of free market solutions to achieve energy independence for the United States," and calls for the abolition of the Department of Energy.
The party supports the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows Congress to tax income, and the Seventeenth Amendment, which requires the direct (popular) election of Senators. The party holds that each state's membership in the Union is voluntary, a stance known as the Compact theory.
Notable members and allies
Pat Buchanan threatened in 1996 to run as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party candidate if Bob Dole chose a pro-choice running mate. Dole chose pro-life Jack Kemp and received Buchanan's endorsement. Buchanan's 2000 Reform Party running mate Ezola B. Foster switched her membership to the Constitution Party in 2002. Buchanan stated on the September 7, 2004 edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews, "There is a chance I would vote for [Michael] Peroutka." However, he later wrote an endorsement of President George W. Bush in the pages of The American Conservative.
U.S. Senator Bob Smith announced his switch from Republican to the U.S. Taxpayers Party in 1999 to seek its 2000 presidential nomination. Smith later charged that anti-New World Order ideologues within the party resisted his candidacy due to his Roman Catholicism. He left the party after one month and continued his campaign as a non-partisan independent but ceased the campaign soon thereafter and returned to the Republican Party to assume a Senate committee chairmanship. In 2008, he began writing editorials on the Constitution Party's web page, fueling speculation that he would seek its presidential nomination again, despite endorsing Rep. Duncan Hunter for the Republican nomination. He requested that his name be withheld from consideration in a March 2008 letter to Constitution Party supporters.
Author and WorldNetDaily columnist Jerome Corsi launched a brief campaign for the 2008 nomination, but in July 2007 decided to return to writing. Former Reagan Administration official and devout Catholic activist Alan Keyes had actively sought the Constitution candidacy after ending a bid for the GOP nomination.
The party has attracted notables in the anti-abortion movement such as Dr. Gregory Thompson, Lon Mabon, Paul deParrie, and Missionaries to the Preborn leader Pastor Matthew Trewhella. However, many such notables were involved in the below-mentioned disaffiliation efforts over abortion, and it remains unclear what effect the movement has upon the current reorganized rump affiliates.
A 2008 candidate for the Republican nomination, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), endorsed several third party candidates shortly after he bowed out of the race. He later endorsed 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin. The unaffiliated Constitution Party of Montana replaced Baldwin with Paul for president and Michael Peroutka for vice president. Paul requested that Montana remove his name from the ballot, but the Secretary of State of Montana denied his request, stating that the request was sent too late.
In 2010, former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo ran for governor of Colorado as a Constitutionalist. He received 36.8% of the vote, finishing in second place. Despite losing the election, Tancredo managed to secure major party status for the Constitution Party in Colorado by surpassing the 10% of the gubernatorial election vote needed to qualify as a major party.
Former Republican Representative Virgil Goode (VA-5) was nominated at the convention in Nashville, Tennessee on April 22, 2012. Goode received 203 votes; 202 were required for a majority. Darrell Castle of Tennessee, national vice chairman of the Constitution Party, came in second with 120 votes. Other candidates who received votes were Robby Wells from North Carolina, former football coach at Savannah State University; Dr. Laurie Roth of Washington state, a radio talk-show host; and Susan Ducey of Kansas, a Registered Nurse.
Past presidential tickets
- 1992 –Howard Phillips and Albion Knight –43,369 votes
- 1996 –Howard Phillips and Herb Titus –182,820 votes
- 2000 –Howard Phillips and Curtis Frazier –98,020 votes
- 2004 –Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin –143,630 votes
- 2008 –Chuck Baldwin and Darrell Castle –199,750 votes
- 2012 –Virgil Goode and Jim Clymer –122,388 votes
|Election year||Candidate||Ballot access||# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of electoral votes||+/-|
House of Representatives
|Election year||# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of electoral votes||+/-|
|Election year||# of total votes||% of vote||# of seats won||Notes|
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- Note: With few exceptions, the state party affiliates and the national party itself changed their names in 2000 to the present day "Constitution Party."
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