Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Constitutional Balance of Power is Broken

Fox News is reporting that a Federal Court has overturned the National do-not-call list saying that the FTC has overstepped its bounds. Where in the name of democracy can we go from here? I am not against the free speech rights of telemarketers, I am against being forced by the government to hear them, if even just long enough to understand the call's intent and hang-up..

Our president can veto a bill and in short order, congress can override that veto. No need to wait until the administration changes hands. Congress can fail to pass a president's bill and the president can work with congress on a compromise bill that it will pass. The president and the congress are never more than 6 years at the most from a popular backlash that will punish them for skirting our wishes.

But the courts. One word, "unconsititional," uttered by a panel of less than a dozen people, can overturn majority legislation and thwart majority will. Our judicial system has ceased being a democratic institution.

Where is the balance of power against the courts? Let me suggest some avenues.

  • Congress, for the sake of its own power to enact legislation in this country, should begin impeaching activist judges. The purpose of impeachment is not to remove a judge for criminal conduct--a jail can do that! Impeachment is congressional balance of power against judges who no longer abide by the laws it passes. In this way, we the people can be the arbiters of what is in the constitution.
  • Along similar lines the president could ask congress to initiate impeachment proceedings. Or, as in times past, the president can deliberately refuse to carry out the dictates of the court. This goes back to a feistier time, but we may now need such times again.

The fear of judges is behind the current stalemate in the Senate over judge appointments. For congress to be this worried over judicial interence is the sign that it must act to restore its own power.

Nothing is simple, and there will be screams on all sides of such a debate if we were fortunate enough for one to emerge. I propose that anytime that a judge overturns a majority vote that is appointment come up for immediate review in the house of representatives. They can debate and ask questions about whether this is a one-off or a pattern in this judge.

I agree that it should be harder for a judge to lose his or her job than it is for the president or congressman. It should not be so impossible that they become the de facto rulers and kings in this country.

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