Clarifying Constitutional Mandates

RECEIVED Mon., April 4, 2005

Dear Editor,
    It is with dismay that I read two letters to the editor accusing those members of the Senate who desire to change the filibuster rule in the Senate of trying to upset the Constitution's built-in systems of checks and balances or ending judicial responsibility [“Postmarks,” April 1].
    The filibuster is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. It is a rule the Senate imposed on itself under its authority to make those rules and it is free to change it as it wishes. In fact it has changed the filibuster rule a few times, once at the suggestion of President Wilson who was no neo-conservative. Those who now support the filibuster should remember it is a blade that cuts both ways. It has been used in the past to block civil rights legislation.
    A constitutional amendment defining the powers of the judiciary the way the powers for the other branches of government are enumerated can better address judicial responsibility than a filibuster. The framers of the Constitution thought this would be addressed later after ratification. One reason for anti-federalist misgivings about the Constitution was because of its failure to address judicial powers. Unfortunately Congress never got around to an amendment addressing this problem. An unrestrained judiciary is another blade that can cut for or against you.
    "[T]he Federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow), working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. ... [I]t will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated." -Thomas Jefferson.
Carl Anderson
   [Ed.'s note: The above is in response to statements the letter writer wishes had been made, so he could rebuke them, rather than statements actually made. There are constitutional mandated checks and blanaces in the federal governmant. There are also checks and balances that have evolved by legislation. Neither of the letters mentions the Constitution. They do address the issue that traditional checks and balances created by legislation and maintained by consent are being attacked.]
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