Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Abe v. Thomas Jefferson, et al.

On Tuesday's episode of the Bob and Abe Show, I rehashed my long-standing position that the problem that plagues today's America can be traced back to a few glaring oversights in the Constitution. I don't want to bore you, yet, with the many ways I think the Constitution can be revised for the better. Instead, I want to discuss one area where I think change can be made with relative ease.

Problem: The Constitution provides no real mechanism to uphold its basic tenets.

Possible Solution: Before any bill is passed into law, why not have a 'litmus test' to see if the law adheres to the very basic principles of the Constitution? Questions like: does this bill violate the Bill of Rights? Does this bill violate any rights reserved for the states? Why is it not part of the bill-making process to have the judicial branch certify that the proposed bill adheres to the very basic tenets of the Constitution?

The way the system works now, the most important obstacle to any bill is not whether it is constitutional but rather whether it can gain enough votes in Congress and whether the president will sign it into law. The only time the judicial branch gets involved is when someone files a lawsuit protesting the law AFTER it has been passed.

Ideally, the way the system should work is when a bill comes out of committee, the bill is sent to the judicial branch for confirmation. Once the judicial branch determines that it does not violate the basic tenets of the Constitution, Congress can then vote on it. Once it's passed in Congress, the President can sign it into law. It’s basically enhanced judicial review.

The US Constitution, by any measurement, is one of the best documents ever written on how government should operate. I am in no way suggesting that we scrap the whole thing and start anew. But it is an incomplete and sometimes toothless document. Incorporating a 'hey, is this shit legal' component to the bill making process would go a long way to curbing some of the shenanigans that goes on in Washington.



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