Dispatches from the Creation Wars

HR 2679 Passes the House

Which is hardly a surprise. The House will pass virtually anything, as history attests. But this bill is going nowhere fast in the Senate, just like Rep. Hostetler’s other court-stripping legislation that passed the house and then died. Congress is about to go on break until November 7th. When they come back they’ve got about a dozen major appropriations bills to pass before they adjourn until January. This won’t even come up for a vote in the Senate. Joan Bokaer has a post at Talk to Action about the bill that shows just how crazed Hostetler is about this: he thinks the executive branch should just ignore decisions they disagree with:

“When the courts make unconstitutional decisions, we should not enforce them. Federal courts have no army or navy. The court can opine, decide, talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We’re not saying they can’t do that. At the end of the day, we’re saying the court can’t enforce its opinions.”

This is an enormous threat to our constitutional system. An independent judiciary is absolutely crucial. Hamilton wrote in Federalist 78 that without an independent judiciary able to declare acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the constitution null and void, all of the rights and privileges secured by the Constitution “would amount to nothing.”

Comments

  1. #1 Keanus
    September 27, 2006

    Without the courts to shield the law and minorities from the excesses of the majority, we would have a dictatorship that differed little from the Soviet Union under Stalin. Perhaps, I’m engaging in a little hyperbole, but the more I see of Bush and the current Republican Congress, the more I see a resemblance to the practices of the Soviet Government under Stalin.

  2. #2 David
    September 27, 2006

    Didn’t Andy Jackson already try out this approach? Do Congressmen read history? Oh wait, Old Hickory got away with it. Maybe they do read history. Maybe they pine for that brand of strong leadership. “Jacksonian” sounds way better than “Stalinist.”

  3. #3 Russell Claus
    September 27, 2006

    It is at this junction where I say that between me and Rep. Hostetler, I’m the only one who holds American values. He obviously doesn not believe in or accept the Constitution or the liberal democratic ideals this country was founded on. I hate to be the one to through around this empty catch phrase, but you sir are Un-American. You are a demogague, borderline tyrant, and would through this country into Civil War if you had anything close to decision making ability in this country. And for hyperbole’s sake – you are the anti-Christ…you or Dick Cheney.

  4. #4 Obsidian Snowflake
    September 27, 2006

    Between this post and one over at Red State Rabble , I really believe that most people have absolutely no idea what role the courts, or any branch of our government for that matter, are supposed to play. It has just become this battle of personalities and ideologies. I admit my understanding of the government has some holes in it, but it seems like I’m still way, way above the average American. We need to somehow teach the general public how the government works and why it works that way. Are there things that need to be changed? Absolutely. But if you don’t understand the system your trying to fix, you’re just going to do more damage.

  5. #5 Reed A. Cartwright
    September 27, 2006

    So I guess Hostetler would have no problem if a Democratic president imprisoned him for “treason” and then ignored the “unconstitutional” rulings of judges who said that Hostetler should be released.

  6. #6 Sastra
    September 27, 2006

    That’s right — courts shouldn’t stop the American people from having Christian prayer in their schools. Just as they shouldn’t stop the American people from keeping the colored folk out of their schools. The schools belong to the American public – it’s why they’re called “public” schools. And we’ve no idea where the non-christians and colored folk came from, or what they’re doing in someone else’s country, going to someone else’s school.

  7. #7 Bruce Wilson
    September 27, 2006

    As one of the middlemen in bringing attention to this bill ( on the Internet at least – and, I picked up the story from Don Byrd and also AU ) I have to say : it’s a horrible bill, and it hopefully won’t clear the Senate.

    Meanwhile, I’m rueing not picking up on far more insidious ( for having amuch better shot at clearing the house and senate and getting signed into law ) the “95-10″ initiative from DFLA ( “Democrats For Life” )

    Moiv, at Talk To Action, has an outraged writeup on “95-10″ that she’s titled Trojan Donkey”

  8. #8 George
    September 27, 2006

    The system of checks and balances does require three branches. If the executive and the legislative work together then the executive can ignore the courts without consequence in the short-term. If what they do is illegal, then a future executive could prosecute, or a new legislature could impeach.

  9. #9 dogscratcher
    September 27, 2006

    Ed:
    ” But this bill is going nowhere fast in the Senate, just like Rep. Hostetler’s other court-stripping legislation that passed the house and then died.”

    I certainly hope you’re right.

  10. #10 Coin
    September 27, 2006

    Congress is about to go on break until November 7th. When they come back they’ve got about a dozen major appropriations bills to pass before they adjourn until January.

    Wait, seriously? Oh man.

    This is something that’s been puzzling me– that Congress wants to revamp the detainee tribunal system, build a massively expensive wall between us and Mexico, pass a homeland security department expansion bill that costs even more, and then re-authorize I don’t even know how many spending and tax bills– and the election’s in six weeks? I’ve been wondering how they’re going to get all this done.

    And so you’re saying that they’re actually about to go on break until election day? That almost reaches the point of being funny.

    When exactly do they go on break, how many days do they have left? Do you think we can expect ANYTHING to be passed before the election? And when you say they’re on break “until” november 7, do you mean they’ll be working on election day?

    Between this post and one over at Red State Rabble , I really believe that most people have absolutely no idea what role the courts, or any branch of our government for that matter, are supposed to play. It has just become this battle of personalities and ideologies. I admit my understanding of the government has some holes in it, but it seems like I’m still way, way above the average American. We need to somehow teach the general public how the government works and why it works that way. Are there things that need to be changed? Absolutely. But if you don’t understand the system your trying to fix, you’re just going to do more damage.

    Something I’ve been repeatedly wondering over the last year– seeing the public shrug off attempts to paint the principle of judicial oversight as “activism” and the “unitary executive” as something which exists– is if we maybe need to just bring back civics classes in public schools. :P

  11. #11 W. Kevin Vicklund
    September 27, 2006

    The target adjournment date for the 109th Congress (Second Session) is October 6. It might not reconvene until the 110th Congress convenes in January (effectively killing any pending legislation, as I understand it). Alternatively, it could reconvene after the elections for a lame duck session, or the Commander in Chimp could call for a special session.

  12. #12 Coin
    September 27, 2006

    Interesting, thanks.

    Though, looking on news.google.com for “adjourn”, I’m finding multiple articles saying congress adjourns friday, and does not come back until after the election. Where’d you get the October 6 date?

    I must confess I don’t actually know the process by which Congress adjourns. Do they set a date ahead of time, and then they have to vote to extend if they want to prevent adjournment from occurring on that date? Or is the idea that whenever Bill Frist says “okay, adjourned” then the Congress adjourns, and he’s planning to say that (?:friday | october 6)?

  13. #13 MikeQ
    September 28, 2006

    That’s an Andrew Jackson argument, if I’m not mistaken:

    “The court made their ruling, now let’s see them enforce it.”

  14. #14 W. Kevin Vicklund
    September 28, 2006

    I got it from websites that listed the expected recesses and adjournments – they could be out of date. The target date is set ahead of time, though it is subject to change, of course. The motion to adjourn includes the decision on whether to meet after the elections. Since there are some big appropriation bills outstanding, they may have decided to end early and reconvene afterwards.

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