[extropy-chat] POL: Removing checks and balances

Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Tue Apr 6 21:43:18 UTC 2004


I'd describe it, but...honestly, the impact is more
appropriate if you go there yourself and confirm
someone really did introduce this.

I give it a very low chance of passing, even given the
current climate.  Any odds greater than zero are high
enough to cause discomfort, of course, but I'm not
sure this one is (currently) worth much effort
fighting despite its content.  Even if it passes,
it'll probably get ruled unconstitutional - and a vote
to override that would likely find most of the cops
siding with the judiciary, rather than Congress, even
if the latter does pay their bills.

I wonder whether it would be a good idea, and if so
what it would take, to get a constitutional amendment
like the following passed?  (Given its content, it
only works as an amendment; a regular law would be
overruled and dismissed in short order.)


Whereas, the citizens of the United States of America
can no longer tolerate the real damage caused,
directly and indirectly, by the passage and temporary
enforcement of laws that are found unconstitutional at
the first opportunity for review, and

Whereas, the character of many such unconstitutional
laws throughout the history of the United States of
America has run counter to the spirit and beliefs upon
which its system of government was founded,

Let it be resolved that, if any law passed by Congress
shall within five years of enactment be found to be
unconstitutional by a unanimous vote of the Supreme
Court, all Senators and Representatives who voted for
said law shall be immediately barred from service to
the government of the United States, including
elected positions such as Senator or Representative
and appointed positions such as ambassadors, for a
period of twenty years starting from the date of
determination of unconstitutionality, and

In all votes to enact legislation in the House of
Representatives and in the Senate, Congress shall
maintain an accurate record of who voted for and of
who voted against each bill.

This amendment shall only apply to legislation enacted
after it has been ratified.


The time limit is there to target "immediately
obvious" unconstitutionality.  If it's only found
unconstitutional after many years of analysis, or if
there is any serious debate (among the USSC judges, at
least), those who passed it are off the hook.  This is
only intended for the worst abuses, and thus has a
correspondingly high bar to invoke.  (For example,
putting "Under God" in the pledge would not make the
cut.  Trying to trump the courts' power like this, or
to continue trampling on constitnutionally protected
civil liberties to the degree that they have been,

The second to last paragraph is there to get around
the problem of voice votes, where who voted yea or nay
is not recorded.  (It'd be simple enough to install
electronic voting - each member gets "yea", "nay", and
"abstain" buttons that apply to whatever is presently
being voted on - for those times when they don't want
to bother with roll call, the initial reason for voice

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