Riding Roughshod Over The Constitution

April 1, 2011

Shame on the House of Representatives for today passing H.R. 1255.

This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. This is an issue of respect for the U.S. Constitution and I am deeply disturbed at those congressional memebrs who voted in favor of H.R. 1255. The bill passed the House 221 to 202, mostly along party lines (15 brave Republicans voted against it along with all Democrats).

H.R. 1255 attempts to change the constitutional procedures for enacting a bill into law. The Constitution has served us well in this process for a very long time: One chamber of Congress passes a bill; the bill then goes to the next chamber where the bill is considered; the second chamber either passes it, rejects it or modifies it; if modified, then the two chambers try to reach a compromise and if they can’’t, the bill dies; once both chambers agree on a bill, it is sent to the President for his/her signature or veto; if the President signs it, the bill becomes law.

H.R. 1255 says that if the Senate does not consider by April 6th a particular bill (a budget bill) already passed by the House, then that bill will automatically become law —— forget about the manner in which the Constitution says a bill may become law. The statement of constitutional authority filed by the bill’’s sponsors indicates this provision is authorized by the “rulemaking” powers given to Congress. In other words, it is OK to change the way the Constitution tells us laws may be enacted if the Congress decides to change its own internal rules.

I do not care whether this was a bill from Republicans or Democrats. Any congressional representative who would vote for such a blatantly unconstitutional bill has no respect for the Constitution. Not one of those House members who voted in favor of H.R. 1255 any longer has the right to make public statements that he/she values the Constitution because this action today unequivocally demonstrates that if it is a question of complying with the Constitution or disregarding it in the face of politics, then that person is willing to throw away the Constitution.

I am a lawyer. In spite of the cynical opinions many people hold regarding lawyers, I (and many others like me) became an attorney because of a fundamental belief in the integrity, dignity and soundness of the United States Constitution. Many of us hold it in such high regard that when we see others attempt to toss the Constitution aside for mere politics, it is deeply offensive.

One need not be a lawyer, however, to be offended by the passage of H.R. 1255. Every citizen, regardless of political affiliation, should be distressed by it, and in my view let that feeling be known to those congressional members who voted in favor of the bill. In the event anyone would like to see the roll call of those who voted for and against it, this link can take one to the official website of the GOP of the House of Representatives:

http://www.gop.gov/votes/112/1/224