Sometimes a news release leads to a discussion of whether it is news. Most releases are quickly are deleted. But sometimes reporters get news releases that prompt those discussions and sometimes the discussions become a little freewheeling. And reporters around a table or just around the newsroom sometimes consider what a news release drafted immediately after a major issue is decided really means, particularly if taken to a distant conclusion. Here are some highlights of the evaluation of the comments in a particular news release.
The news release to the Missourinet came from a highly indignant member of Congress after the Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act. “The activist ruling…ignored the votes of a bipartisan majority of Congress,” this Congressperson proclaimed. “This alarming precedent disempowers Congress from making national policy with respect to marriage.”
Durn Tootin’, as Gabby Hayes used to say.
This country would be so much better if we didn’t have that darned United States Supreme Court telling us from time to time we’ve done something that violates the principles of the U. S. Constitution. How dare these people who know so much more about the laws, the precedents, and the history of rights than those who pass the laws that their laws have violated the constitution!
This is an important point and we hope political science teachers from grade school on up are paying close attention to it. Forget about three co-equal branches of government. Forget about checks and balances. We don’t need courts telling Congress that the laws it passes are not bulletproof.
This Congressperson also proclaimed, “The court ignored the voices of millions of Californians who went to the ballot box twice to protect marriage….They trampled on the people’s rights and left them voiceless. This is a serious loss for democratic self-government and the rights of the people to stand for marriage as the union between one man and one woman,” the member fulminated.
This member has a point. Courts should pay attention to what the voters say. They should not stand in the way of citizen sentiment. Or Congressional action.
Think of ways citizens express their sentiments or have expressed their sentiments on social issues, among them:
You see, if the people vote–whether at a ballot box or under a hanging tree–for an unconstitutional proposal, whether it be on an issue of marriage, abortion, taxes, rustling or anything else you might name, the courts should ignore any claims that the voters or the vigilantes have approved something unconstitutional.
The member of Congress proclaims, “We must work to defend the rights of Americans to make marriage policy.” That sure makes sense, doesn’t it?
So shame on the United States Supreme Court for degrading “the rights of Americans to make marriage policy.” And this isn’t the first time they’ve done it! For example, the U. S. Supreme Court eliminated the rights of Americans to make it a crime for people of different races to marry. It was okay with the people in many places until 1967 that couples of mixed race could be arrested if they got married. But that meddling, activist, Supreme court took away the rights of Americans to maintain that marriage policy.
Think how much the federal deficit could be reduced if the all-knowing Congress, including this member, were to eliminate a system of judges with the power to protect certain people by ruling that efforts against them by others do not fit under the Constitution.
Pretty clearly this nation could be much better if it didn’t have a third branch of government taking away the unconstitutional privileges and prohibitions approved by Congress or by the people. We thank this Congressperson for so eloquently bringing this serious flaw in our democracy to our attention.
It would refreshing if the three branches of government acted like mature adults. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Congress limited its activities to rational, fiscally responsible legislation instead of running amok like clowns in a circus, honking horns and squirting seltzer water at each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Supreme Court stopped making sweeping public policy decisions based on a 5 to 4 vote of an interpretation of a regional courts’ interpretation of a lower courts’ ruling of a case that began as an argument over a vaguely worded public policy regulation or law that was enacted decades earlier. Decisions, incidentally, that settle nothing because they fall in the realm of ethical or religious debate rather then legal adjudication. The high court can decide on segregation, police powers, abortion, homosexuality, and other such public policy issues but still those ideas remain largely undecided in vast majorities that make up the public conscience. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a Presidential administration acted in the best interest of the Republic instead of using governmental agencies to advance or thwart the ideological goals of one party or another.
Wouldn’t that be a different government than the one we have now.
Mr. Weiser, you are absolutely right. It would be wonderful if our elected officials acted as mature adults and acted at all times on in the best interests of the people. But I for one am very always grateful and am often amazed at the foresight of our founding fathers to understand that this would not always happen and to set up three independent branches of government, each having checks and balances to keep the other two in line. I love to watch the movie “1776” on the Fourth of July to remind me of what a marvelous experiment our American government is and to be humbled by the wisdom of our forefathers.