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:
“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.