Debt Limit Committee of Twelve Transforms Our Republican Form of Government

There has been lots said about the Super Committee, some of it interesting, some of it not so much, but very little of it referring to the Constitution to determine either its prudence or legality/constitutionality. This post will seek to rectify that (likely) inadvertent omission.

Under Article 1, Section 5 it is required that a “Majority” of members of both houses must be present “to do Business“. This provision was specifically debated during the framing of our Constitution and it was intended by our founding fathers to forbid “a small number of members of the two Houses to “make law”. SEE for example:

Madison Debates, August 10th.

Col. Mason:
“This is a valuable & necessary part of the plan. In this extended Country, embracing so great a diversity of interests, it would be dangerous to the distant parts to allow a small number of members of the two Houses to make laws. The Central States could always take care to be on the Spot and by meeting earlier than the distant ones, or wearying their patience, and outstaying them, could carry such measures as they pleased. He admitted that inconveniences might spring from the secession of a small number: But he had also known good produced by an apprehension, of it. He had known a paper emission prevented by that cause in Virginia. He thought the Constitution as now moulded was founded on sound principles, and was disposed to put into it extensive powers. At the same time he wished to guard agst. abuses as much as possible. If the Legislature should be able to reduce the number at all, it might reduce it as low as it pleased & the United States might be governed by a Juncto- A majority of the number which had been agreed on, was so few that he feared it would be made an objection agst. the plan.”

Under the 12 member committee the largest possible number of States that would be represented in the making of law would be a mere 12 States. And, of the hundreds of Congressional Districts across America, 12 is the highest number that would be represented in the making of law. This 12 member committee which is designed to “make law” is exactly what the founders intended to prevent by requiring at a minimum a “Majority” of the members of both houses “shall constitute a Quorum to do Business”

Quorum is a legal term and is the number of the officers or members of any body as is competent by law or constitution to transact business. The Constitution by its very wording requires at a minimum 50 Senators and 218 Representatives to do business. Col. MASON‘S quote above tells us that the “Super Congress” would be dangerous to “make law,” and keep in mind making law is significantly different from voting to approve a law which has already been “made.”

As to Article 4, Section 4, we are guaranteed a “Republican Form of Government” and the very essence of a Republican Form of Government is that the people’s representatives are to be directly involved in the law making process. So, are the unique interests of the various United States represented in the law making process in this committee? No, not by any twisting of constitutional language that this writer can discern. Are the people’s interests of each of the hundreds of State Congressional Districts represented in the law making process of under this committee? Not by a long-shot.

This act is a direct assault upon the very essence of our republican form of government as our founders intended it to operate, and if allowed to take effect, it would be a devastating and fundamental transformation of our system of government in that it excludes both the people’s interests and the various State unique interests in the sausage making process, and only allows them an up or down vote on a law made in secret and behind closed doors, just as occurred with ObamaCare.

I personally believe that every member in the House and Senate who voted YEA to establish this “committee,” is complicit in a seditious act designed to fundamentally transform and dissolve our guarantee to a republican form of government. I have little doubt that some of you will disagree with that assessment. If you do though, please include a constitutional argument that can legitimately counter it. No legislator’s “good intentions” or thoughts that “we had to act instead of doing nothing” are valid counters to a solid constitutional argument, only another solid constitutional argument is.

It is imperative for everyone to understand that there is nothing in the language of the Super Congress part of the debt deal bill that limits the scope of the committee to only economic issues. Everything that the Congress as a whole can address, can likewise be addressed by only 12 members once this goes into effect. That includes gun control, abortion issues, law enforcement issues, taxation, literally anything, and it empowers the committee to write “law” that cannot be amended in the House or filibustered in the Senate, thus removing the few substantive protections held by the minority against the majority that were intentionally instituted in each house very early in our history as  bulwarks against one-party tyranny.

It is also imperative to realize that there is a sunset clause in the Super Congress legislation. I believe it’s December, 2012, though I’m not certain of that at this moment. However, that should be of little comfort to anyone who opposes the Patriot Act, which also had sunset dates for certain provisions, none of which have yet been allowed to sunset. All but one of the current Republican presidential candidates who were in Congress to vote on those sunsets voted to deny letting them expire, and this committee sunset is not any more likely to expire than the blatant 4th Amendment (plus others) assaults of the Patriot Act have been. As such, if you determine that the Super Congress is a threat to your liberties, you should start right now conditioning your representatives to expect that any of them who vote to continue the Super Congress when those votes come around, assuming of course that the Supreme Court doesn’t correctly intervene in the interim, will face staunch opposition in the following election, which, not-so-coincidentally, will be the following election cycle after 2012.

Thanks for reading.


Comments are closed.

  1. TxAg94

    I have to admit I am fuzzy on the “super committee” that has been established. Let me ask, though, how this differs from any other congressional committee. It is my understand (again, I could easily be wrong) that the committee was tasked with coming up with proposals that would then be presented and approved/rejected by the congress as a whole. I guess you could say they are writing legislation but they are not making it law. Am I missing something?

    I haven’t seen this thing in action so I don’t know where I stand on the merit of it. I hold out hope that this group can be effective without letting their potential influence get the better of them. Of course, this is one of the last threads of hope I have for our politicians these days.

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  2. hist_ed

    A refular committee’s work can be amended and is subject to all the normal parliamentary rules. As I understand it, the super committee’s work only gets a yes or no without amendments.

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  3. CzarChasm *

    I guess you could say they are writing legislation but they are not making it law. Am I missing something?

    I’m also a little confused since we had a similar committee with BRAC, no?

    Yes and no. Although I have a constitutional issue with the BRAC Commission, the same issue as the Super Congress in fact, the difference is the scope of the respective committees. BRAC was (is) limited by the language in the bill that created it to only base realignment issues. The Super Congress is not limited within the language of the bill that creates it at all, including the creation of revenue bills, which no senator is constitutionally authorized to be involved in. On that latter basis alone, the Super Congress is unconstitutional on its face without even having to refer to prior SCOTUS decisions or parliamentary precedents. Section 7, Article 1 of the Constitution states unequivocally:

    1. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

    It won’t surprise me to see the argument that the senators on the Super Congress will take a back seat to the House members on revenue bills, but even if We, The People could count on that level of constitutional discipline from our representatives (HAHAHAHAHA), it wouldn’t mitigate the fact that Section 7, Article 1 limits the origination of revenue bills to the full House, not a 6-man committee, and certainly not a joint committee involving senators.

    Further, Section 7, Article 1 specifically provides for proposing and concurring with amendments to all bills before Congress, and the Super Congress-created legislation is somehow, inexplicably, exempted from that process.

    BRAC does not infringe on Congress’ authority to set times for debate for themselves. There are strict time limits for debate in the House, as well as added parliamentary stumbling blocks put in front of representatives from even invoking debate in the first place. This is in direct contravention to Section 5, Article 2, which states:

    2. Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings….

    And lastly, let’s just assume that the BRAC Commission and the Super Congress are substantially the same constitutionally-speaking. For one thing, SCOTUS refused to hear the BRAC challenge, which does not mean that BRAC is constitutional, rather, just that it remains an unanswered question. I am not a lawyer, or even a college grad, but I do read and understand the English language pretty well, and I don’t require a SCOTUS ruling to determine for myself what fits within the language of the Constitution and what doesn’t. Neither am I bound by any SCOTUS ruling to agree with their take on a given issue. After all, let’s not forget, the Supreme Court in a majority decision upheld the constitutionality of slavery, and opined that blacks were an inferior race. You can read that decision at:

    SCOTUS started appropriating for itself powers not granted it by the Constitution or Congress’ creation of the court system it would work within in less than 15 years after the Constitution was ratified with their Marbury v. Madison ruling and the imposition of the “Judicial Review” doctrine. That’s certainly another potentially interesting, and intricate, subject for another post, but the point is, SCOTUS has at least as dismal a record of adhering to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution as Congress or presidents have. I only trust them after the fact of a ruling and they’ve already ruled correctly. While an important issue is in their hands, I’m always sweating like R. Kelly at the Kids’ Choice Awards.


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  4. CzarChasm *

    TxAg94 and Hal_10000, I would like to know if I adequately answered your questions? Would either (or both) of you go on from my previous post still thinking that the Super Congress committee is just run-of-the-mill congressional fare? If so, how so? If not, acknowledgement would seem appropriate, or even better, some evidence of you having looked further into it and offering problems with it that I am sure I left out of my answer.


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