The View From 1776

Mob Rule Under The 17th Amendment

Conrad McEachern sent me a YouTube link to Senator Rand Paul’s speech decrying the failure of the Democrat/Socialist Party’s Senate majority to obey the Senate’s own rules of procedure.  In his speech, Senator Paul notes that a 600-page bill was delivered to the Senators only a couple of hours before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had scheduled a vote on the bill.  The Senate’s rules require that all bills be posted at least 48 hours before a vote.

In addition, Senator Paul reports that the bill contains important features that impact certain states, whose Senators had no forewarning about their inclusion in the bill.  Under the original Constitution, before the 17th Amendment was ratified, such railroading would have been far less likely, because Senators’ duties included protecting their states’ economic and political interests.  Owing their election to their state legislatures, Senators before the 17th Amendment could not be so easily railroaded by national political parties or national pressure groups.  The 17th Amendment reflected liberal-progressive aims to undercut our original federal republic and make it a French Revolutionary-style collectivized mobocracy.

For background information, see The 17th Amendment Revisited.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/08 at 08:30 PM
  1. Along the lines of Rand Paul's speech, in 2011 the GOP led house passed a rule (Rule XII) that every bill put forward had to specifically cite the constitutional authority on which is was based.

    And then immediately the GOP put forward H.R. 358, the "Protect Life Act," which completely lacked any such a citation!

    The astonishing justification given was that the Affordable Care Act was "clearly unconstitutional" so no statement was needed. (This was prior to the supreme court's ruling that Obamacare was constitutional after all.)
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/09  at  10:40 AM
  2. JJ,

    First of all, your comparison is specious because the article decries the Senate arbitrary, unfair, and disingenuous manipulation of its own rules of procedure, whereas your complaint has to do with Congress writing laws which may or may not be Constitutional, and then complaining Congress has (in some undefined manner) disregarded its own (Constitutionally mandated) rules in doing so. The two things are not at all the same.

    Congress is free to pass as many laws incapable of passing Constitutional muster as it wishes (despite it being bad for the country to do so). We have seen Congress do exactly that many times since its establishment, especially under Democrat dominance. Rule XII requiring Congress cite Constitutional authority does not, in fact, prevent it from passing un-Constitutional laws, only that they must first consult the Constitution prior to enacting them. The intent here was to cut down on the number of laws the Court would be later obliged to nullify. Not to make it impossible for Congress to pass illegitimate or foolish acts.

    But, let us not assume, as you have done, that Congress acted falsely; and examine closely what exactly it was Congress enacted in this instance. The Protection of Life Act provides the following:

    Bans the use of federal funds to cover healthcare plans which cover abortions. (i.e, extends a previous restriction prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion and requires federal funds and abortion-related funds be kept separate.)
    Requires the Director of the Office of Personnel Management to guarantee all federal exchange healthcare plans do not include abortion in their coverage.
    Requires any entity offering healthcare plans through a federal exchange covering abortions to also offer an identical plan excluding abortion services (real choice).
    Prohibits government agencies from discriminating against healthcare providers who refuse to undergo, require, provide, or refer for training to perform abortions.
    Provides court remedies for violations of PPACA abortion provisions (as amended).

    All of the above provisions are well within the Federal mandate to regulate, given it first has authority to dispense taxpayer funds for healthcare services (are you arguing it hasn't, as that would reverse your assertion Obama-care is Constitutional). Thus, the Act updates earlier acts (which have been proved Constitutional already) and amends Obama-care to bring it in line with these earlier laws and rulings. It strips the PPACA of its abortion-related provisions, which are, in fact, un-Constitutional (because forcing taxpayers to pay for other peoples mistakes is un-Constitutional [except in cases of rape and mortality], and forcing objectors to provide abortion services violates our 1st Amendment right of conscience) regardless what the Court has ruled. What it does not do is usurp any states power regulating abortion as you imply; which might prove to be un-Constitutional if Congress had, in fact, done that. Because it did no such thing, your argument is vacuous.

    Moreover, the Court did not, per se, rule Obama-care 'Constitutional'. It simply refused to declare it un-Constitutional and referred it back to Congress (and/or a referendum of the people) to decide. Chief Justice Roberts effectively copped out in his ruling it was not a Court matter (given the long history of the Court in deciding similar questions of Constitutionality).

    Legislative rules of procedure are not subject to Constitutional divination by courts because they are rules the Senate and Congress each and independently determine for themselves, and because each of the branches are independent of each other. But, having determined a procedure to be followed, it is incumbent on each of these bodies to observe them and not abuse their right of rule, else a tyranny of the majority prevails that can result in unrest. A large minority whose rights are repeatedly and constantly disregarded in this manner has little reason to cooperate. Our system has worked as well as it has for two hundred years in part because our politicians understood legislative rules of order matter to the party out of power, and have maintained a modicum of observance for that reason. It is one thing to be overruled, it is quite another to be so totally shut out of the conversation our ideas and complaints of misrule are not even heard. The current bunch in power appears to have forgotten how much (or little) abuse it takes to foment open rebellion.

    It may not be within the purview of Congress to safeguard life against those wantonly intent on destroying it (5+million children to date, and counting), but it was well within our Founder's intent to safeguard life. Recall it was Jefferson who penned that famous call to arms, our Declaration of Independence; and that among those lines are these: ( http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/first-principles/primary-sources/the-declaration-of-independence )

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

    Thus life was/is a right of vital importance in their view (as it ought to remain in ours), and any government that does not defend it is unworthy of our support. The first Congress gave us our Bill of Rights to safeguard the rights of individuals and minorities against the sometime tyrannies of a majority running roughshod over the small and meek. None are more vulnerable than children in the womb, making it incumbent on us, the citizen grantors of power to defend their lives (and life itself) against would be tyrants, despoilers, moral degenerates, and murderers of innocents. If we cannot do this at the Federal level, we must do it at the state and local level where the Constitution asserts power resides to determine all issues not specifically within the Federal grant. But, when and wherever Federal power has supplanted the states, our only recourse is to shape policy at the Federal level. And, if Federal power has been so warped it thwarts both a state's right to defend life and the people's intent, it must be resisted to the best of our ability and means.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/12  at  07:58 AM
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