Friday, October 10, 2008

Curtailing the power of the State, one Constitutional Amendment at a time

1. No presidential executive order or signing statement attached to enacted legislation shall contravene or usurp the legislative powers of Congress.

2. All executive orders and signing statements, with the exception enumerated in Section 4 of this amendment, shall be communicated to Congress and published immediately.

3. Upon petition of twenty-five Senators or one hundred Representatives to challenge the constitutionality of an executive order or signing statement, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall choose by lot three Associate Justices to review the issue and rule within thirty days. This three-Justice panel may either uphold or strike down the executive order or signing statement. The appeal of this decision shall be heard by the Supreme Court, which may not refuse to hear the case. While the case is under appeal, the implementation of the executive order or signing statement shall be stayed.

4. If an executive order or signing statement shall be deemed by the President to compromise national security if published, the content of that executive order or signing statement shall be communicated to the chair and ranking member of the committees of the House and Senate which have authority over intelligence issues. A petition from any one of these individuals shall substitute for the petition described in Section 2 of this amendment.

5. Violation of this amendment shall be constitute an impeachable offense.


Jim Fryar said...

This one is a beauty, lets get it done.

tom said...

This is not only too verbose, it's totally unnecessary. Signing statements have no validity or force of law, they are merely comments. It's been a well settled point of law since Marbury v Madison, if not before, that if the executive branch is ignoring a law passed by Congress or some other duty, the proper route is to appeal to the courts for a Writ of Mandamus.

And there are essentially two types of executive orders: the valid ones where the President directs his officers and/or employees to do something that is within the power & jurisdiction of the executive branch; and the totally bogus, unconstitutional ones where the President pretends to make law, as if he were a king issuing a proclamation. The 1st type are not a problem, the 2nd type is already prohibited by the Constitution, in a place that's really hard to miss - "Article I, Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Difficult as it may be to believe, the President is not really the problem, Congress is. Legislative authority is vested in them: the may not delegate it by allowing unelected bureaucrats to legislate for them in the form of regulations, and they certainly cannot be allowed to abdicate it completely by regularly & routinely allowing the President to usurp their authority.

They need to start writing clear & detailed laws that leave little or no room for interpretation or regulation, and when the President encroaches on their rightful territory, they need to smack him down hard. For minor encroachments, they can pass a resolution stating that he does not have the authority to do X, or pass a law by veto-proof 2/3rds majority explicitly revoking his authority and repealing any contrary provision of law. For major usurpations, there is always the option of impeachment. Violating the Constitution that you swore an Oath to preserve, protect and defend is clearly an impeachable offense.

A much better amendment would be a "one subject at a time" rule for bills, like the ones in almost every state constitution. This would end the practice of passing unpopular bills by attaching them to "must-pass" legislation, and would go a long way toward reducing pork.

David Scott said...

Although, I personally am so far to the left that even the democrats appear to me to be "right-wing," I consider myself to be a strict constitutionalist. It is my opinion that since its inception there has been an organized and systematic assault by the conservatives in the United States (and in the other industrialized nations) on the civil liberties written into the US Constitution. The “War on Drugs”; “War on Terror”; “War on Communism” and a host of other wars waged by the right wing are really nothing more than a War on People--an excuse to erode civil rights to the point of non-existence. I invite you to my website devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on freedom:

tom said...

You're a few months late w/ this comment, but if you want to discuss unconstitutional stuff done by the "right-wing conspiracy" you may as well start in June of '98 with the Alien and Sedition Acts.

And btw, there were more than a few Democratic Administrations & Democrat dominated Congresses promoting the various War on [Foo] campaigns. Of course, like you said they're part of the right-wing conspiracy too. But then I guess Libertarians must be pretty right wing to you as well.