Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oh for a Court of the Brave

Like it or not the Supreme Court has ruled and ruled not along lines of any actually related Constitutional or matter of law. They ruled on the basis of political ideology. No one wins in such a fight. It up ends the country, and such rulings seem more and more to be based on the days gone by that existed on TV but never in actual reality.

The fact is that our highest court has for a time lacked courage of any conviction. It gives narrow rulings based on a conservative or liberal belief. Once there were courts that ruled in favor of right. They took bold stands and didn't take into consideration if the nation was ready. They understood that times change, and the Constitution was never intended to be something that could not change with time. The Court of the Brave made rulings that still reverberate in both effect and controversy. They were the rulings of Roe v. Wade, Brown v. The Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, and Tinker v. Des Moines. These cases altered the social fabric of the country.

What does the current Court deal with? Citizens United, the stripping voting rights, refusing to hear a case on Gay rights rather than simply ruling on its constitutionality and how far protesters must stand from a clinic . And now the ruling on Hobby Lobby which is an extremely narrow ruling that nevertheless ultimately gives a contrived entity the rights of an individual just as Citizen United did in making money a form of free speech. They are, in short, not brave but political.

I don't know which side of the fence you stand when it comes to the Hobby Lobby, although for me any support I might have given fell flat when I learned the Hobby Lobby once covered the contraceptives they sued about in their court case. They say that they didn't know the insurance covered these items, but they did drop the coverage in 2012 shortly before they filed the Obamacare lawsuit. You can decide.  

These are not brave rulings but ones based on political divide. Is there nothing we can do? The rulings can be challenged but to do this we as a people must do more than complain and whine and post memes. We must challenge the Constitution. Remember, I told you it is a living document. If it were not, its framers would never have given the people the right to amend it. It is time for that growth. It is time for us to do what was intended all along. In my lifetime, there have been five amendments added to the Constitution. It can be done and it is time to do so.

California has already called for a Constitutional Convention. Generally speaking most amendments have been passed in just over a year from their proposal. I should point out that no current amendments were a result of a convention, but given the current state of our congress, we have little other choice. A few were ratified rather quickly and the most recent, the 27th took 74003 days to be ratified. It was proposed in 1789 and finally reached ratification in 1992. It was not one of the more pressing changes.

As I see it, we need more than a few add-ons to the constitution. The first needs to make it clear that contrived entities such as businesses, privately or publicly owned, are not individuals. The individuals that make up a corporate entity have individual rights, but their business is not the individual. Money is not speech. Businesses are not churches. Corporate person-hood is a myth that needs to die and die now.

Then we need to make it clear that majority rules in our houses of government. The use of cloture and the Hastert rule are preempting this first idea of our Constitution. No one person should be able to stop a vote by announcing a filibuster. If a senator wants to filibuster, he or she needs to break out his or her favorite Seuss story and hold the floor. If a law is offered, no matter how ridiculous or how hateful the other party finds it, it needs to go to committee where it can die or to the floor. The Hastert rule of the majority of the majority of the House says what goes to the floor is the worst kind of bastardization of majority rule. Not even the Speaker should have the power to block legislation. It's not his or her job to prevent other representatives from doing their job.

Next on my list is modernization. This will no doubt be the most hotly contested. We need to clarify the 2nd amendment. I for one am tired of having this litigated every few years or even months. I am not saying it needs to go away, but this business of was it a military amendment or was it so everyone gets a gun with no regulation needs to be made clear We as a people need to answer in a modern age do we need the ability to regulate?Other amendments have been used to do this. When 80 percent of Americans think something needs to be done and we cannot get a vote in Congress, it is obvious the people need to make our wishes felt.

If we are going to have a Constitutional Convention, I think it is time to remind all elected officials they are our servants and not a stepping stone to a cushy lobbying job. Lobbying can be a good thing and also a vile thing. In any case, we need to get the money out of Washington, limit elected officials from working as lobbyists, limiting the money, gifts and other sundry items that our representatives and their family get from these firms.
We might want to consider limiting how long someone serves on the Supreme Court, or for that matter, any Federal court. I am not terribly certain, but I don't think that when the framers made the appointment lifetime, they had any idea how long some of these folks would live and what idiots they might become. They probably also thought that no one would want the job for as long as some of these folks have sat the bench. I recall for example hearing that Scalia was once thought of as a brilliant legal mind but now not so much. He recently even got the facts wrong on his own rulings. (His dissenting opinion was quietly corrected and replaced.)

Finally, we must once again set voting rights onto the Constitution. More amendments, I think, have dealt with equal rights and voting than any other additions to the constitution. There are five amendments that deal with voting and at least two dealing with civil rights. Do you get the feeling that people keep finding new ways to twist the right to vote and control elections. This amendment should also control gerrymandering. No state should have the ridiculous district borders for voting that they do. Voting districts need to be based on counties, natural boundaries or at least a good old square, rectangle or circle not some unnamed geometrical shape (try these for example).

 I know. I've rambled on for too long. But hey it's been a while since I put my two cents in. The point is we can make a change and if we want to stop the plutocracy we have become, then we must push for action. Posting a meme or two and whining on Facebook isn't going to do it. We must get out and vote, contact our representatives, complain to TV stations about the ridiculous ads, sign petitions demanding changes and not just from Washington. States may call for Constitutional Conventions. The Supreme Court has ruled. They weren't brave, but we can be brave and make the change.