Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Senate Supremacy Over Executive

The American Senate, in the words of Senator Byrd, is Supreme.

What happened?

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Senator Byrd made an interesting comment,
[S]enators today become fixated on the White House, not understanding that in the constitutional design it was the Senate that was supreme, the heart and soul of the Republic Ref

This Senate fell down. Neither was it supreme, nor did the Senate check the abuse of the Executive.

Rather, it's been the relatively politically-unchallenged contention of the Vice President the opposite: The Congress has too much power.

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The results say the opposite: The Senate not only has fallen down, and permitted abuse of Power, but failed to remedy the abuse, investigate, or re-right the scales.

If the Senate isn't willing to assert the power it's been given, what use is it to give it more power to do anything? Rather, the real threat is to remove from the Senate the discretion to act or not act, and compel the Senate to oversee. Here's how.

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Let's put aside the potential solution to explore the validity of Byrd's assertion: Was the Senate intended to be supreme? I think not. The framers intended the Senate to be a supreme power on whether the President is or is not removed from office.

But Congress is not the same as the Senate, The Bicameral legislature was thought to do the opposite of Byrd's contention -- to dilute power, and ensure the legislature is weak.

If the framer's had intended for the Senate to be Supreme, they would not have made a President, or Judiciary; or a House.

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Byrd appears to have referenced the notion of the Roman Senate, where the Senators had the power to make judicial decisions, with incredible power to thwart the Executive.

Today's issue isn't whether the Senate is or isn't Supreme -- it is not -- but what is to be done to explore what has gone wrong; what the alternatives are; how the reforms can be couched under the umbrella of the Constitution; or whether Constitutional reforms are required to ensure the present abuse of power does not again occur.

Power has been abused, and the Senate has failed. The Senate's discretion must be removed, or the power must be removed. The President is only as powerful as the Constitution permits; he is illegally permitted to violate the law, but without meaningful sanctions on the Member of Congress.

A war crimes prosecutor could find the individual members of Congress complicit with war crimes: For failing to shut down funding for illegal Geneva violations, not stopping the illegal activity, and failing to gather facts to ensure the alleged war criminals were prosecuted.

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Rather than talk about what power the Senate should or should not have relative to the Executive, the appropriate question is to ask whether the existing structure, however it is defined or practiced, is sufficient to check the power the President abuses.

The theory of the Senate means nothing when the Executive practices are unchallenged. The solution includes a timely sanction on the individual Senator for failing to do what they should do: Investigate, check power, and focus on their oath and Constitution.

It should not, but it does, require the action of the States and citizens to awaken the Senate. This Senate, despite state action remains comatose. That is hardly a sign of Supremacy, but irrelevance.

Relevant senators would do more than oppose the President or offer other legislation. They would investigate facts, and decide how to proceed. The way forward is not a legislative debate, but a war crimes prosecution.

If the Senate, in Byrd's view, should be supreme, then a compromise would be what we should have: Three co-equal branches. Yet, we have an imbalance; we need a balance, but there is no plan to balance.

The Senate is adept at self-congratulation, not in self-government. We need leaders in the Senate who will protect the Rule of Law from the executive, not simply talk about what should or should not be Supreme.

The Rule of Law, not the Senate, is Supreme.