Senate in disgrace – again

United States Senate
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Once again the United States Senate, or at least half its Judiciary Committee, has disgraced itself. Democratic members of that Committee continue to ask self-serving questions of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, now of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court. They ask the sort of questions no Senator should ask, and presume to set a standard for qualification that in fact would disqualify any judicial candidate.

Senate members betray themselves in their complaints

As they have done for two days, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have presented complaints that say far more about them—and not flattering—than about the candidate. One can summarize their complaints thus:

  1. Orange Man Bad.
  2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Heroine of the Marxist Revolution, has died.
  3. The Senate should permit none but a Democrat to choose a successor to this Heroine.

Beyond that, they clearly wish to amend the Constitution informally. And in so doing, they “throw off” on Republicans, accusing them of wanting to accomplish “administratively” what they cannot accomplish legislatively.

What the Senate Democratic Caucus really wants

Furthermore, these Senators seem to wish the Senate would go on record asserting several propositions.

First: to let ordinary civilians carry firearms, is inherently dangerous. Innocent schoolchildren die for that reason alone. Indeed no person, except:

  • A law-enforcement officer,
  • An active-duty military service member,
  • A Very Important Person, or
  • His bodyguard,

should own, carry, discharge, or so much as touch a firearm.

Second: an airborne pandemic rages across America. To stir so much as one step outside, or to congregate, indoors or out, is to risk having people drop like houseflies flying into a cloud of insecticide. The only safe way to vote is to vote by mail. Bad Orange Man doesn’t want people to vote by mail, because he doesn’t want people to vote at all. Because he knows they will vote for the Marxist Revolution.

Third: people are getting help with their “pre-existing health conditions” who would never get help without the partial socialization of medicine we call the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” To invalidate the Act is to sentence a bunch of people to die without a trial.

Everything else distracts from the main narrative.

So how do individual Senators disgrace the Senate with their remarks?

Senator Durbin on gun control

Senator Richard Durban (D-Ill.) harps on the distinction Judge Barrett made in her dissent in the case Kanter v. Barr. Ricky Kanter sold some shoe insoles and pretended they had Medicare approval when, apparently, they did not. He pleaded guilty to a count of mail fraud. For that reason, current federal and Wisconsin law disbars him from ever again owning a firearm.

He sued in a bid to regain his gun rights. The case reached the Seventh Circuit, and two of Judge Barrett’s fellow judges refused him. But Judge Barrett disagreed. National Review has the full discussion of her dissent.

In sum: Barrett believes a law cannot disbar all felons from carrying firearms, but only those convicted of crimes of violence. Senator Durban complains asks why a felon should lose the right to vote but not the right to keep and bear arms.

Senator Durban really has a more basic problem with freedom. He thinks everyone should have the right to vote, but no one but LEOs, active-duty military, VIPs or their bodyguards should have the right to keep and bear arms. (And by “LEOs” he might mean national police, like an American equivalent of the French gendarmerie. But your editor digresses.)

Voting v. self-defense

In fact logic dictates that a society may disbar someone from voting far sooner than from bearing weapons in self-defense. To vote means to exercise a measure of political power over one’s fellows. We vote as our part in running the state, even if only by choosing people to run it for us. The rest of us have the right to know that those who take part in running the state, are not running it in order to steal for themselves.

Ricky Kanter arguably stole money from people. For that he ought not to vote. But he still has the right to defend himself. That makes the right to keep and bear arms far more fundamental than the right to vote.

Furthermore, the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly lets a State disallow someone from voting who stands convicted of a crime—or of taking part in rebellion. The Fourteenth Amendment explicitly disqualified Confederate soldiers and officers from voting. So when leftist Senators make voting more important than carrying arms, they betray ignorance, hypocrisy, or both.

Senator Klobuchar and ideological balance

Turn now to Senator Klobuchar. Who did two things this morning that rate expulsion from the Senate. First she challenged Judge Barrett with a copy of a Solicitor General’s brief in California v. Texas. By what authority she so acted, she never explained. Second, she presumed to hold Judge Barrett accountable to her for something difficult to discern. She seemed to be trying to hold Barrett to account for replacing the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and throwing the Court off “ideological balance.”

By what authority dare the Senate concern itself with the “ideological balance” of the Supreme Court? The Framers never intended the Court to become the battleground the Democrats made it. Senator Klobuchar seems to demand that Presidents replace liberals with liberals and conservatives with conservatives. But not one predecessor of hers ever spoke up when Franklin Delano Roosevelt systematically left-ized the Court. Which he did after Congress balked on his plan to enlarge it.

You’re not on the campaign trail, Senator!

And as she did before, Senator Klobuchar continues her consummate confidence that President Trump will fail of re-election. Therefore, she says, let the Senate wait for Joe Biden to send one whom she deems a worthy successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Heroine of the Marxist Revolution. Won’t anyone in the Senate tell her that she is not on the political stump? And that it ill befits a Senator to conduct Senate business with oratory that belongs at a political rally?

At least today Senator Klobuchar did not blub—though she came close to gnashing her teeth. She reminds CNAV of this woman:

https://twitter.com/MaybeAmes/status/1307181505572212736

How did the Senate come to this pass?

In brutal fact, the Senate brought this problem on itself in 1969 and 1970, when it refused to confirm Clement Haynesworth and G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court after Richard M. Nixon nominated each. (Wikipedia has devoted an article specifically to Richard Nixon’s problems winning confirmation for his judicial appointments.) The Senate did so for purely ideological reasons. Carswell and Haynesworth might indeed have disqualified themselves by calling for continued de jure segregation. But no one in the Senate couched their objection in Constitutional terms. They couched their objections in ideological terms, seeking to leverage racial integration to promote the proto-Marxism of the New Deal and the Great Society programs of FDR and LBJ, respectively.

And in fact the Senate didn’t come close to a working majority respectful of the Constitution until 1980. Then, Ronald W. Reagan became President and, on the strength of his electoral coat-tails, flipped the Senate. But the Democrats flipped it back in the disastrous midterm of 1986. A year later, Reagan nominated Robert H. Bork. And the Senate made the most explicit ideological declaration to date. Never would the Senate confirm anyone threatening “a woman’s right to choose.”

Informal amendment

CNAV has already discussed what abortion really means, and, therefore, what makes it repugnant to the Constitution. Here let it suffice that the Senate can stop disgracing itself in only one way. The Senate must recommit to respect for the Constitution as the Framers wrote it. Of course, subsequent Congresses have amended it. But only a formal amendment should carry any weight. The Senate has, since Haynesworth and Carswell, supported the informal amendment to the Constitution that they count on the Supreme Court to do.

How the Senate can redeem itself

Perhaps before the Senate can redeem itself, Congress and the States need to repeal certain amendments that have severely weakened both the Senate and the people. First: we had a better Senate when State legislatures chose Senators. Congress should propose repeal of Amendment XVII, that provides for popular election of Senators. Amendment XVII provides for the election of demagogues, not the careful selection of true servants and protectors of the Constitution.

Second, Congress should propose a repeal of Amendment XVI and return to the apportionment of direct taxes among the States. The income tax became an “easy out” for raising revenue for special projects—or punishing the successful, almost as severely as Tarquin the Arrogant did in ancient Rome.

Then perhaps the Senate can return to its original role as a protector of the Constitution.

About the image

“United States Senate” by John Brighenti is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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