Go Back to Pretoria, Hippies!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 29 2012 11:42 AM

Go Back to Pretoria, Hippies!

Lee Fang, the ex-Think Progress blogger/current Republic Report blogger, uploads video of Darrell Issa asking for a "presidentpresident who will respect the Constitution, not try to convert it to a [unintelligable] of the South African Constitution." What the hell is he talking about? Why, it's the newest Republican meme: The fear of creeping Constitutional Bader-Ginsburg-ization. The Justice gave an interview to Egypt's Al Hayat TV, musing about how post-Mubarak Egypt should govern itself, and said this:

I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution: Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world? I'm a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.
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This has turned into one of the key quotes of 2012 so far. PolitiFact is out with a primer on it, citing Rick Santorum's use of the Ginsburg line in a Georgia speech. I heard Santorum hit it in Michigan, too. In Traverse City, he suggested that Ginsburg preferred South Africa's constitution to ours, and offered her a one-way ticket to Cape Town when she retired. ("Not too soon! Next year.") But Marco Rubio, who has one of the best communication teams at his level of politics (his spokesman Alex Conant is a Pawlenty campaign alum), got to the Ginsburg line first.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.