Constitution Party (United States)
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the United States
The Constitution Party, previously known as the U.S. Taxpayers’ Party, is a national political party in the United States. The idea that the principles and intents of the U.S. Constitution remain relevant in human relations was the origin of the 1991 founding. Founding members included 2016 presidential candidate Darrell Castle and former acting Office of Economic Opportunity Director Howard Phillips. The party platform is based on originalist interpretations of the Constitution and shaped by principles which it believes were set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and the Bible. The Constitution Party is on the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s list of hate groups.
There are “7 Guiding Principles” for Constitution Party candidates and platforms. Throughout these principles and accompanying platform items, there are direct quotes from early U.S. founders and political figures, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence, among others. The party applies these quotes as evidence of its views of the Constitution and its belief that the U.S. was founded on Christian principles while it also maintains its support of the No Religious Test Clause.
As of March 2018, the Constitution Party has 26 members who have been elected to city council seats and other municipal offices across the United States. In terms of registered members, the party ranks fifth among national parties in the United States.
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 was renamed the Constitution Party in 1999, but some state affiliated parties are known under different names. The party absorbed the American Independent Party, which was founded for George Wallace‘s 1968 presidential campaign. The Constitution Party claims to be the “philosophical home” of the Tea Party. The Constitution Party candidate, former congressman Tom Tancredo, came in second place with 617,030 votes in the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election with 36.4% of the vote, ahead of Republican Dan Maes with 11.1%. 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.
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||Headquarters city||State chairman||Year state party founded||Comments|
|Alabama||Constitution Party of Alabama (CPAL)||Montgomery||Joshua Cassity||November 2008|
|Alaska||Constitution Party of Alaska||Soldotna||J.R. Myers||2010||The Alaskan Independence Party ended its affiliation in January 2013.|
|Arkansas||Constitution Party of Arkansas (CPAR)||Hatfield||Michael Barrett (acting)|
|California||Constitution Party of California||San Leandro||Don Grundmann||1967||From 1992 until 2008, the American Independent Party was the California Constitution Party affiliate.|
|Colorado||American Constitution Party||Arvada||Doug Aden||2000||The American Constitution Party’s more than 10% 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). It was known as the Concerned Citizens Party until it disbanded in April 2013.|
|Delaware||Constitution Party of Delaware (CPDE)||Clayton||Pell Sherman|
|Florida||Constitution Party of Florida||The Villages||Bill Wayland|
|Georgia||Constitution Party of Georgia||Woodstock||Ricardo C. Davis|
|Hawaii||Constitution Party of Hawaii||Honolulu||Dave Wethington|
|Idaho||Constitution Party of Idaho||Coeur d’Alene||F.W. Whitley||1999||It is one of two minor political parties (along with the Libertarian Party of Idaho) which has ballot access in Idaho.
In 2016, the party ran a presidential ticket consisting of Scott Copeland and J.R. Meyers, the first- and second-place winners of the state’s presidential primary on the ballot in the state of Idaho in lieu of the national Castle/Bradley ticket.
|Illinois||Illinois Constitution Party (CPIL)||Metropolis||Randy Stufflebeam||The party’s first elected official was Phil Collins, who was a Township Trustee in Libertyville Township in Lake County, Illinois from May 2013 until January 2016.|
|Indiana||Constitution Party of Indiana (CPIN)||Evansville||Steven Walker|
|Iowa||Constitution Party of Iowa||Eldon||Marvin Creech|
|Kansas||Constitution Party of Kansas||Wichita||Barry Sullivan|
|Kentucky||Constitution Party of Kentucky||Lexington||Mike Ward|
|Louisiana||Constitution Party of Louisiana||Eunice||Ronald Tucker||2012||The Constitution Party of Louisiana was re-established as a political party in Louisiana on March 26, 2012. The party officials at that time were State Chairman: Peter Vidrine, State Co-Chairman: Scott Vige, State Vice-Chairman: .
The party’s first elected officials are Ronnie Broughton who was re-elected unopposed for his fourth term on the Webster Parish School Board on November 4, 2014, and who was elected as the Chief of Police of Eunice, Louisiana on December 17, 2014.
|Maryland||Marylanders for Constitutional Governance||Rockville||Michael Bertocchi||~ 1996||In 2008, the party was recognized by the Maryland State Board of Elections as a 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||Grand Rapids||William Mohr||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 Michigan Taxpayers Party was born out of the Tisch Independent Party, a conservative party in Michigan founded by Bob Tisch in 1982. The Tisch Independent Party achieved ballot access, but due to changes in state law was later dropped. In 1994, it was renamed the U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan and became an affiliate of the national Taxpayers 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||Burnsville||Bruce Johnson||The national party’s paleoconservative affiliate in Minnesota|
|Mississippi||Constitution Party of Mississippi||Brandon||Leslie Riley|
|Missouri||Constitution Party of Missouri||Piedmont||Doug Enyart|
|Montana||Constitution Party of Montana||Bozeman||Travis Orback ||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 was the first party member to be elected to the state legislature in 2006, and was later appointed chairman of the .|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Party||Lincoln||Had changed its name to “The Nebraska Independent Party”, and then back to “Nebraska Party”. The party had candidates for statewide offices placed on ballots from 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008.|
|Nevada||Independent American Party of Nevada||Elko||Joel Hansen||1967|
|New Jersey||Constitution Party of New Jersey||Palmyra||Larry Berlinski||July 1995|
|New Mexico||Constitution Party of New Mexico||Los Lunas||Robert M. Bowen|
|New York||Constitution Party of New York||Buffalo||Gary Gunsher||May 2017||Constitution Party New York Website|
|North Carolina||Constitution Party of North Carolina||Charlotte||Al Pisano|
|Ohio||Constitution Party of Ohio||Eaton||Gale Joy|
|Oklahoma||Constitution Party of Oklahoma||Chandler||Thom Holmes|
|Pennsylvania||Constitution Party of Pennsylvania||Osceola||Bob Goodrich|
|South Carolina||Constitution Party of South Carolina||Greenville||Ted Adams||Achieved ballot access for its presidential candidate in every presidential election from 1992 to 2016.|
|South Dakota||Constitution Party of South Dakota||Brandon||Mike Gunn|
|Tennessee||Constitution Party of Tennessee||Gainesboro||Randy Barlow||1992|
|Texas||Constitution Party of Texas||Scott Copeland||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.|
|Virginia||Constitution Party of Virginia||Newport News, Virginia||John Bloom||April 2017|
|Washington||Constitution Party of Washington||Spokane Valley||Robert W. Peck||~ 1996||This branch was founded as the Washington U.S. Taxpayers’ Party, but it changed its name to the American Heritage Party in 1998 and to its current name in 2000.|
|West Virginia||Constitution Party of West Virginia||New Haven||Jeffery Frank-Jarrell||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||Andrew Zuelke||1991||Founded as a unit of the U.S. Taxpayers Party.|
|Wyoming||Constitution Party of Wyoming||Wheatland||Jennifer Young||2010|
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.
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.
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 Democratic 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.
The 2016 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 2016–2020 platform contains no reference to the Tea Party.
The Constitution Party, in the 2016 platform, supported retaining the Electoral College and was opposed to establishing a popular vote system to elect the president and vice president of the United States.
The Constitution Party in 2012 supported 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
Trade and foreign policies
The Constitution Party in 2012 favored 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 treaties, such as NATO, 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 in 2012 opposed illegal immigration and sought stricter controls on legal immigration. It demanded 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 favored a moratorium on future immigration, with exceptions only for extreme cases of necessity, until federal welfare programs have been phased out and a better vetting program is in place.
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 it also believes that state and local governments have the right to criminalize “offensive sexual behavior.” The party also opposes pornography, believing that it is “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. Citing Article 1 Section 8 and Amendment 10, the party 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 for 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 edition of September 7, 2004 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.
The party has attracted notables in the anti-abortion movement such as 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 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 Constitutionist. 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.
Ronnie Broughton, a past president and current member of the Webster Parish School Board in Minden, Louisiana, is the chairman of his state’s Constitution Party and one of the few party members holding public office in Louisiana.
Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was notably suspended twice in 2003 and 2016 for refusing to comply with court orders regarding the display of the Ten Commandments and the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses, had been courted by the Constitution Party to run as their candidate in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections.
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.
On April 16, 2016, Darrell Castle secured the presidential nomination for the Constitution Party at a convention attended by delegates from 28 states. He has vowed, if elected, to get the United States out of the United Nations and NATO. “Our borders are worth defending. If we can secure the borders of Korea and Germany, then we can secure the borders of the United States,” said Castle. In his nomination acceptance speech, Castle made no reference to the unspecified health reasons that had earlier led him to withdraw his name from consideration. Since accepting the nomination, Castle has given several interviews to media, but his campaign website lists no public campaign appearances.
|Year||Presidential nominee||Home state||Previous positions||Vice presidential nominee||Home state||Previous positions||Votes||Notes|
|Virginia||Chairman of The Conservative Caucus
Candidate for Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district
Candidate for United States Senator from Massachusetts
|Albion W. Knight||Florida||Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church of North America
|Virginia||(see above for previous positions)
Nominee for President of the United States
|Herbert Titus||Oregon||Lawyer, writer||184,656 (0.2%)
|Virginia||(see above for previous positions)
Nominee for President of the United States
|Curtis Frazier||Missouri||Nominee for United States Senator from Missouri
Founder of the Institute on the Constitution
|Florida||Pastor, radio host||143,630 (0.1%)
|Florida||Nominee for Vice President of the United States
|Virginia||Member of the Virginia Senate
Member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia’s 5th district
|Jim Clymer||Pennsylvania||Candidate for Auditor General of Pennsylvania
Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Chair of the Constitution Party
Nominee for Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Candidate for Lancaster County Board of Commissioners
Nominee for United States Senator from Pennsylvania
|Tennessee||Nominee for Vice President of the United States
|Scott Bradley||Utah||Nominee for United States Senator from Utah
House of Representatives
|Election year||No. of overall votes||% of overall vote||No. of representatives||+/-|
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
0 / 435
|Election year||No. of total votes||% of vote||No. of seats won||Notes|
The following is a table of ballot status for the Constitution Party presidential nominee in 2016.
The Constitution Party’s website criticizes the dominance of two parties in the US electoral system, saying:
Without all political ideologies having a place in the free marketplace of ideas, on an equal footing with the top two in power, life is like an ice cream shop that only serves two flavors – customers grow weary and no longer buy. America flourishes when its citizens have real choices with which they identify philosophically. America’s representative system of constitutional governance is doomed to fail if voters continue to be offered only vanilla and chocolate when what they really want is mint chocolate chip or a hot fudge sundae.
- Constitution Party National Convention
- Electoral history of the Constitution Party
- List of political parties in the United States
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