A Failure of Constitutional Obligation

Constitutional Obligation

There is much in the news today about the Constitutional Obligation of the Senate to consider a Supreme Court nomination from the President of the United States. It is important to understand this is a Constitutional Obligation and when Senator Mitch McConnell failed to fulfill that duty upon the death of Justice Scalia in 2016 the entire Supreme Court became unconstitutional. Every decision made by the court from that point forward has no legal standing.

When McConnell made the decision to ignore his constitutional obligation, he willingly poisoned the entire judicial branch of the United States. I interpret this as an attempt to destroy the United States as a whole and such falls clearly under Section 3 of Article Three of the Constitution of the United States. Every time McConnell states he has a constitutional obligation to appoint a Supreme Court Justice to the fill the vacancy of Justice Ginsburg he admits his guilt in the previous appointment. He is, without question, guilty and should face punishment as described in that section.

Every decision made by the court since that failure of constitutional obligation is tainted. The entire court is invalidated by the decision McConnell made. For a while I posited if Justice Gorsuch were to resign and another judge appointed in his place, it would rectify the problem. With the current nomination process ongoing, I see this was a false hope. This version of the Supreme Court, in place and serving ably since 1790, is forever invalid. The situation is far worse than that, the entire judicial branch is poisoned by the fruit from that tree.

Every ruling of the Supreme Court since 2016 is invalid and every precedent used from those decision is likewise meaningless. We cannot fix the situation by appointing another justice. If an umpire makes a bad call on the first pitch of an at bat, it cannot be resolved by making a reverse call on the fourth pitch. What is done, is done. The Supreme Court as we know it cannot be fixed through normal processes.

I’m quite aware my point here is radical to the extreme. There is no Rule of Law and we might as well accept such. The United States is currently a lawless country and until a new Supreme Court is installed, it will remain that way.

We must look to the Judiciary Act of 1789 to proceed. Every Supreme Court justice must step down and be replaced, immediately. President Washington acted in the interest of the country by appointing six justices from different regions of the nation with differing views, I suspect President Trump is incapable of such but I offer him, or his successor, and the United States Senate the opportunity to fulfill their constitutional obligation.

It is also important to understand the current situation is the outcome of the politicization of the Supreme Court for which both Democrats and Republicans are to be blamed. The Founding Fathers established separate but equal branches for a reason and this is an example of why they did so.

Can we appoint new Justices in an apolitical way? I doubt it, but it is the only way forward. Everything else points to the end of the Republic. If the Supreme Court becomes an extension of the Legislative Branch which has become an extension of the Executive Branch, there is no separation of powers, and there is no Republic. That is where we currently stand.

Tom Liberman

Pay Congress Minimum Wage – Good Idea?

Congress Minimum WageOne of my prolific Facebook posting friends recently posted a photo declaring that US Congress members should be paid at minimum wage. My first thought was it was a rather idealistic but silly idea but then I decided, what the heck, I’ll take a rational, Randian Objectivist look at it.

My first goal was to find the actual savings in real dollars. There isn’t an exact savings because the number of hours in a year fluctuates depending on how many weekend days there are and leap years but the formula looks basically like this:

Current Pay: (530 * 174,000) + (4 * 193,4000) + (1 * 223,000) = $93.2 million.

The breakdown is 432 House Members and 98 Senators at regular pay, Majority and Minority leaders at 193,400 and Speaker of House at 223,000.

Minimum Wage Pay: ($7.25 * 2088 * 535) = $8.0 million.

The Breakdown is all 535 paid for 2088 hours of a work in a fairly average year at the federal minimum wage. States have different minimum but I went with federal.

Savings: 93.2 – 8 = $85.2 million.

As a percentage of the 2011 budget this is (85.2 million / 3.7 trillion) = .0023%

So, the actual savings, negligible, although I’m not one to completely discount $85 million even if it is .0023% of a larger total. It’s still $85 million!

Now, as to the practical aspects of the idea. First the perceived cons:

  1. Only wealthy people could run for Congress as living on that salary would be extremely difficult.
  2. It would open up Congress members to bribery as they needed the money.
  3. It isn’t any real savings to the federal budget.

The perceived benefits:

  1. Saves $85.2 million in real dollars.
  2. Would attract only those who wanted to serve rather than those in it for the money

The cons seem to outweigh the pros at first glance but I’m not so sure. No one can run for Congress without financial backing anymore and the perks of being a Congress member, in the form of benefits given by lobbyist, far outweigh their simple salary remuneration. Congress members are already are bribed by lobbyist in the way of campaign contributions so I don’t think lowering the salary stops who can run or their susceptibility to bribes in any appreciable fashion.

The Supreme Court has ruled that anyone can anonymously give any amount to a campaign. Congress members will, until that decision changes, be completely at the whim of special interests in order to get elected. Once elected they might go against their financial backers but eventually such strong-willed individuals would be weeded out of the electoral process because they would get no financial backing the next election. Only those willing to do the bidding of the highest bidder would get elected.

The illusion of financial independence is simply that, an illusion. Our Congress Members are bought and owned by those who pay the campaign bills.

Having looked at it from this perspective I’d have to say, yeah, pay them minimum wage and save a small fraction of the federal budget but in examining it I realized something very interesting although off-topic.

I have an idea!!

The original the House of Representatives was to have one representative for every 30,000 citizens (Native Americans didn’t count and only 3 out of every 5 slaves counted). This has gone up with the increased population so that now we have one representative for every 700,000 citizens. If we went back to the original proportions we would have a Congress of about 10,000 members (300 million total citizens / 30,000).

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, we do have 10,100 representatives (100 senators added). At minimum wage that is about $153 million in salary or an increase in $60 million from current expenses but …. they work from home! No staff. Each one represents a much smaller district and has less influence, huge decrease in the cost to get elected, and less individual power so that lobbyist must spread their money very differently. It might even be impossible for a lobbyist to bribe enough Congressmen to get legislation passed.

There would have to be some serious reorganization in regards to committees but with the speed of computers I don’t see this as impossible. Voting is easily done with computers. It makes it much harder to play the You Scratch My Back game. It makes representatives much more accountable to their districts.

It does leave the Senate as a beacon for bribery and misconduct but with their six-year election cycle they’ve always been a bit more independent.

I think it might actually work to remove corruption from the cycle and I’m convinced that the reduction in staffing, housing, travel, and the rest would end up saving more than $85 million!

Am I crazy? Could this work? Tell me in the comments.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
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