I wrote earlier about the duties of the Vice President as explained in the Constitution. So I figured it would be a good time to do the same with the President’s duties. Here is a breakdown of the duties and powers of the President of the United States, as outlined in the Constitution, specifically Article II, Sections 2 and 3:

  • Veto laws passed by Congress
  • Commander in Chief of the military
  • May require in writing the opinion of any of the heads of the Executive departments
  • Grant pardons and reprieves for any crime other than impeachment
  • Make treaties with foreign nations, subject to the Senate then ratifying the treaty
  • Appoint ambassadors, judges, and other appointments, subject to the Senate consent
  • Make appointments when the Senate is recessed
  • Deliver the State of the Union address
  • Recommend laws he’d like to see passed
  • Convene and adjourn the House or Senate
  • Receive Ambassadors or Ministers, like heads of state
  • Take care that all the laws are faithfully executed
  • Commission all officers of the United States

Those are the President’s duties. If you see the President doing something that’s not in that list, it is something he has taken on beyond what is called for in the Constitution. For example, where does it say that the President needs to work on the economy of the nation? Where does it say the President needs to institute state-funded health care? Both of these fall under the category of recommending laws he’d like to see passed. But while the President may propose anything he’d like, Congress is limited to what they are allowed to pass. Article I Section 8 expressly states what Congress may pass, and neither the economy nor health care are in any of the items.

John Nance Garner, the 32nd Vice President of the United States, once summed up the office of the Vice President as being “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” But if you were asked about the duties of the Vice President, could you name them? Here is a video of Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin responding to the question of a third-grader — “What does the Vice President do?”

“A Vice President has a really great job because not only are they there to support the President’s agenda, they’re, like, the team member — the team mate — to that President, but also they’re in charge of the United States Senate. So if they want to, they can really get in there with the Senators, and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon, and his family, and his classroom. And it’s a great job, and I look forward to having that job.”

This hands-on approach to the Senate is getting some people on the left upset, as reported on the completely impartial and non-biased *snicker* news organ, CNN:

The comments have drawn criticism from Democrats and liberal blogs which note the actual role of the vice president when it comes to the Senate is simply to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event of a stalemate. According to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the vice president is the “President” of the Senate, but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber.

Donald Ritchie, a historian in the Senate Historical Office, told CNN that Palin’s comment was an “overstatement” of what her role would be.

“The vice president is the ceremonial officer of the Senate and has certain ceremonial functions including swearing in new senators and can vote to break a tie,” he said. “It’s a relatively limited role. It’s evolved into a neutral presiding officer of the Senate.

Ritchie also noted recent vice presidents have played a behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration’s policies, but called it “somewhat limited.”

Let’s read exactly what the Constitution says on the role of the Vice President, as it relates to the Senate:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

That’s it. Notice how the article does acknowledge that the VP is the President of the Senate, but does so by putting it in quotes, like the VP isn’t really President, the VP is only “President.” (Free tip for Alexander Mooney and other aspiring journalists: scare quotes have no place in a serious news story. You’re welcome.) Anyway, the learned opinion of Mooney continues: “but has no executive position when it comes to presiding over the chamber” as if that were actually stated in the Constitution itself. But as you can see, it isn’t.

The VP is free to be as hands-on or hands-off the Senate’s day-to-day activities as he or she desires. The only official responsibility a VP has is to cast the tie-breaking vote, but what stops the VP from mingling with the Senators and persuading them to vote one way or other? The only thing that would stop the VP from doing that is the VP. Did you notice that historian Donald Ritchie admitted as much in his above quote, about how recent VPs have played a “behind-the-scenes lobbying role on Capitol Hill for an administration’s policies”? I see that as being exactly what Palin is talking about when she said a VP could really “get in there with the Senators.” And interestingly enough, she isn’t the only person who claims that power.

The same article quotes the Democrat Vice President candidate, Joe Biden, as saying pretty much the same thing as Palin: “I hope one of my roles as vice president will be as the person actually implementing Barack Obama’s policy. You gotta get the Congress to go along with it.” And how exactly do you get the Congress to do that? Well, you could try to “really get in there” with them.

Palin says it, and CNN responds that she is misstating the role of Vice President. I can envision them murmuring, “Dumb ol’ Sarah.” But Biden makes a similar statement, and there is no sanctimonious head-shaking at his comment over at CNN. That’s why I have to laugh every time I think of CNN’s claim to be impartial and non-biased in their reporting.

Frankly, if I were given the choice between a CNN interview or a bucket of warm piss, I’d take the bucket.

There is big news in the arena of illegal immigrants. Elvira Arellano, an illegal alien and vocal advocate for illegal immigration, was arrested and deported from the U.S. The article I read bore the title, “Immigration activist deported to Mexico,” but it could have read “Law-breaking illegal alien deported to Mexico” and would have been just as correct and valid. Here is the first part of the article about Arellano:

An illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year to avoid being separated from her U.S.-born son has been deported to Mexico, the church’s pastor said.

Elvira Arellano became an activist and a national symbol for illegal immigrant parents as she defied her deportation order and spoke out from her religious sanctuary. She held a news conference last week to announce that she would finally leave the church to try to lobby U.S. lawmakers for change.

She had just spoken at a Los Angeles rally when she was arrested Sunday outside Our Lady Queen of Angels church and deported, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had been living.

“She has been deported. She is free and in Tijuana,” said Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. “She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border.”

Her 8-year-old son, Saul, is now living with Coleman’s family. During a news conference in Los Angeles after Arellano’s arrest, the boy hid behind the pastor’s wife and wiped away tears.

Arellano first entered the U.S. illegally in 1997, and was deported when caught. She returned shortly after that, again illegally. In 2002, she was arrested and convicted of working under a falsified Social Security number. Instead of being deported on the spot, she was part of the “catch and release” idiocy that our immigration officers work under. She was to surrender to the authorities in August 2006, but instead she fled to a church in Chicago and requested sanctuary. She then spent a year living in the church, but was arrested and deported when she left her sanctuary to attend a rally for illegal aliens in Los Angeles. This act has enraged the supporters of illegal aliens:

“We are sad, but at the same time we are angry,” said Javier Rodriguez, a Chicago immigration activist who worked with Arellano. “How dare they arrest this woman?”

How dare they? Well, how dare she break the law at least thrice — twice crossing the border into the U.S. illegally, and using a Social Security number that was not her own illegally? I have no idea how many other laws Arellano may have broken during her illegal stay here in the U.S.

“But Captain, how can you separate a child from his mother?” But I didn’t separate her from her son, Saul — she did. When people choose to commit crimes, they accept the consequences of their lawless actions. If Arellano didn’t want to be separated from her son, she shouldn’t have broken the law. The same separation occurs when people are imprisoned for breaking the law. It was their choice to break the law that separated them from their families. But Arellano doesn’t have to be separated from Saul — he can join her in Mexico whenever she wants.

“But her son was born here! He is a U.S. citizen!” Well, he will remain an American citizen even if he lives in Mexico with his mother. If he chooses to return to the U.S. as an adult, that is certainly his right.

Lest we forget, consider the well-publicized case of Elian Gonzalez, whose mother died trying to bring him to the United States, whose extended family were working to make him a legal resident, and who was forcibly deported to Cuba. Under then-President Clinton, the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government deemed it more important for Elian to live with his father in the hell-hole that is Castro’s Cuba than to stay with relatives in the U.S. In all fairness, Elian was not born in the U.S. and thus did not enjoy the same rights as a native-born American–but then again, Mexico isn’t half the hell-hole that Cuba is.

“Anchor babies” is the term used to describe children like Saul who are born in the U.S. to illegal alien parent(s). These anchor babies are used as an excuse to allow their illegal alien parent(s) to stay in the U.S. But are children of illegal aliens automatically U.S. citizens as soon as Mom gives birth a few feet over the border? What exactly is the law that makes any child born in the U.S. a de facto American?

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution explains what makes a citizen: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

There is a key part of that sentence, and it is “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” This means that the children born of people who legally enter the U.S. and are subject to the jurisdiction of these United States are citizens. As I read it, the children of illegal aliens are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. (the whole sneaking in bit) and thus are not born U.S. citizens. Here is what Rep. John A. Bingham, the author of the 14th Amendment, said regarding the first sentence:

“I find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen.”

Illegal aliens who sneak across the U.S. border and have babies on U.S. soil still owe allegiance to their native land. (Indeed, if the evidence is to be believed, many illegal aliens consider themselves loyal citizens of the nations they left. This becomes painfully visible during illegal alien rallies, where one is far more likely to see flags of other nations on display than one is to see the American flag in evidence.) They have not petitioned the U.S. for entry, nor have they begun the process of becoming Americans by renouncing their former citizenship. They are therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., since they have flouted America’s laws upon entry.

It might be worthwhile for the U.S. immigration officials to give illegal alien parents a choice when they are deported: take your American-born children with you, or leave them in the care of a guardian who is a fully legal American citizen (born or naturalized). Let these parents decide where their true loyalties lie.

(One of the best analyses I’ve read of the 14th Amendment, as it relates to citizenship, can be found at The Federalist Blog. The article clocks in at over two thousand words, but it is well worth the time to read it.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is making headlines with her visit to Syria. I’ll ignore the headscarf nonsense that has some people all hot and bothered; and I’ll ignore the fact that she’s meeting with the leaders of Syria, a puppet-state of our dear friends in the Islamic Republic of Iran; and I’ll even ignore the fact that President Bush objected to her visit. Instead, I’m going to focus on a matter I believe is more important: just what the hell is she doing over there?

Let me back up a bit. The U.S. government is made up of three branches — Judicial, Executive, and Legislative. Madam Speaker is a leading member of the Legislative body. This simply means it is her responsibility to write the laws that the Executive will enforce. But what authority does the Legislature have in negotiating with a foreign nation? Here’s a quick refresher course in Constitutional limits on the powers of Congress:

Section 8 – Powers of Congress

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That’s a fair number of things for Congress to do. So did you notice the part empowering Congress to negotiate with foreign dictators? Yeah, neither did I. Basically, visiting foreign countries and heads of state is not part of Speaker Pelosi’s job. But far worse than just going beyond the bounds of her job, Speaker Pelosi is actively undermining the President. Whether you like him or not, President Bush is responsible for representing the nation to others–not Speaker Pelosi, even if she believes she can do a better job.

To make the actions of Speaker Pelosi easier to understand, let’s think of an example closer to home. Consider a teenager who has come home way past his curfew for the third time in a week. His dad is reading him the riot act and reminding him that the agreed-upon punishment is being grounded for a full week. His mom can choose to stand with his dad, supporting him, or she can undermine his authority by playing “good cop” to the dad’s “bad cop.” If she chooses the latter course of action, the teenager comes to realize that Mom is a pushover, and all he needs to do is work on her to get out of any problem he happens to be in. This is a recipe for disaster.

And a disaster is exactly what Speaker Pelosi is asking for when she undermines the President. But what else would you expect from the party of defeat?

 Madam Neville Pelosi

Thank you, Madam Neville Pelosi. In addition to the comic above, Cox and Forkum nicely sum up Speaker Pelosi’s ineffectual discussions with Syria: “It’s impossible to have a “dialogue” about peace with an intransigent and bloody state sponsor of two groups who openly want to destroy the free state of Israel. This is the mess that Pelosi and her ilk refuse to see.”

UPDATE (4/5/2007 9:29:58 AM): More people are recognizing how Madam Speaker inserted her foot deeply in her mouth with her visit to Syria. What is the problem? The Washington Post explains the Speaker’s failure here:

After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “Israel was ready to engage in peace talks” with Syria. What’s more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. “We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,” she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. “What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel,” said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister’s office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that “a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel.” In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel’s position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad’s words were mere propaganda.

We have a Secretary of State for a reason — so buttinskies like Speaker Pelosi don’t blunder through mistakes like this gaff with the consummate skill of a head-scarfed cow in a china shop. Captain Ed of Captain’s Quarters summed up Madam Speaker’s gaff in this manner:

Pelosi somehow forgot the part about ending support for terrorism when she met with Assad. She told the Syrian dictator that Israel was ready to meet with Assad on a peace proposal, which only told part of the story. In delivering only part of the message, Pelosi not only arrogated to herself the role of American foreign policy director — which Condoleezza Rice has as Secretary of State — she did the same with Israel’s foreign policy as well.

Not a bad night’s work for an incompetent.

When diplomats meet with enemies, they make sure to get their positions coordinated with their allies and execute strict message discipline. They do not “wing it” — they check with their elected governments when any questions arise about the directions of talks. Only someone with an ego in inverse proportion to her talent would start making stuff up as she goes when dealing with the Syrian-Israeli relationship, one of the most explosive in the world.

OK, boys and girls, it’s time to test your Constitution knowledge! Go to ConstitutionFacts.com and take the quiz.

I got a score of 9 out of 10, making me a “Constitution Whiz Kid.” If you have taken the quiz, drag your mouse over the next bit of text to see what question I missed:

[I missed question #6 about George Washington's Vice President. I'd call this more of a history question, not a Constitution question.]

So, what was your score? Be honest.

Back in 2005, Lynne Stewart, a civil rights lawyer, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists. She is in the news now because she has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for her part in aiding convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman. If you haven’t heard of Omar Abdel-Rahman, you were probably paying attention only to items covered by the mainstream media, so let me fill you in a bit. In 1995, Rahman was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing two years earlier. So he is obviously a really nice guy. Stewart was convicted for providing material support to him and his terrorist organization. But she claims her innocence:

In a letter to the judge, Stewart proclaimed: “I am not a traitor.” She said she did not intentionally enter into any conspiracy to help a terrorist organization.

But being a lawyer, she should know that the charge of treason isn’t based on intent. The Constitution defines treason in Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” And what Stewart did was most certainly giving aid and comfort to our nation’s enemies. Again, as Stewart’s 2005 conviction states, she was found guilty of “providing material support to terrorists.” Sure sounds like giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies to me. But rather than giving her a 30-year sentence as federal guidelines state, District Judge John G. Koeltl gave her 28 months because of her decades of “dedication to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients.”

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs points out an interesting aspect of this case: one of the people indicted along with Stewart, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, was sentenced to 24 years for his part in smuggling messages from Omar Abdel-Rahman to his followers. Isn’t it interesting that Stewart got 28 months for her part while Sattar gets 24 years for his?

And speaking of interesting, here’s an interesting quote from Stewart at her sentencing:

“The end of my career truly is like a sword in my side,” Stewart said at her sentencing. “Permit me to live out the rest of my life productively, lovingly, righteously.”

What she’s really saying here is “Please don’t send me to prison! Please, please, oh please!” I think she should spend her final days living life “productively, lovingly, righteously” in prison, perhaps making aid packages for the members of our military putting themselves in harm’s way to fight the same people to whom she gave aid and comfort. I see it as being a fitting end to her career, but not everyone sees her as equally guilty:

Earlier, about 150 Stewart supporters who could not get inside the filled-to-capacity courtroom stood outside the courthouse, chanting “Free Lynne, Free Lynne.”

“It’s not just Lynne Stewart who is a victim; it’s the Bill of Rights that’s the victim,” said Al Dorfman, 72, a retired lawyer.

The phrase which applies to these Stewart supporters, and especially to Al Dorfman, is “useful idiots.” This century’s version of the “useful idiot” is “dhimmi.”

It doesn’t matter what the results are in the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election — President Bush will not hand over the presidency to the next elected President on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009. That’s what my co-worker told me this week. If he’s able to swallow that idea whole, I’m sure he is equally convinced that the Twin Towers collapsed due to controlled demolitions. His basic argument relies on President Bush being an evil power-hungry megalomaniac intent on gaining control of the entire government. You can tell this is so by the number of high-ranking Democrats he has had arrested and executed.

If you can’t tell from my sarcasm, I’m not a big believer in this theory. I do believe that, come Jan. 20, 2009, someone other than George W. Bush will be standing there with one hand on the Bible, swearing to defend the Constitution. I remember that some conservatives were likewise worried that President Clinton might use some legal pretext to invalidate the inauguration of 2001, but the reins of power were handed over.

What prevents President Bush from being elected to a third term? Well, for one thing, the 22nd Amendment — which limits any given President to two elected terms of office. I can hear ‘em now: “Yeah, but Bush was selected, not elected in 2000, so he can still be elected in 2008!” Oh, puh-lease! Comments like that make me want to check for the presence of tinfoil under your hat.

The final argument I was given to support the idea of President Bush staying in office suggested that, because we are at war or due to emergency, there might be some exercise of the War Powers Act. I don’t buy this either. We have changed Presidents in the middle of war before. We did it in 1945 near the end of World War II and in 1963 during the Vietnam War. Granted, both of these changes occurred because of the death of the previous President. But President Eisenhower was elected during the Korean War, and President Nixon was elected in the middle of the Vietnam War.

So what, other than an advanced case of BDS, makes you believe that President Bush won’t hand over the Presidency in 2009?

[The only way a Bush could be sworn into office in 2009 is if someone else with that surname were to run for President. At the moment, I can think of only one potential 2008 candidate related to someone who was previously a President of the United States. Hint: it ain't Laura.] –TPK

Last week I overheard two conversations. Technically, both of the quotes below were part of the same long conversation, but there was enough of a pause between them that I’ll label them separately.

The first phrase that perked my ears was in conjunction to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, the one that prohibits President Clinton (or any other twice-elected President) from serving a third term. One person was lamenting that President Clinton couldn’t run again unless that Amendment were overturned by another, the way the 18th was overturned by the 21st. And then came the phrase that really got my attention:

“The Republicans don’t want to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Bush could be elected a third time, because they know that President Clinton would be elected with a majority of the vote if he ever ran again.”

I could have responded, but I was talking with a customer about a fairly complicated technical issue, and I decided to concentrate on the issue at hand. But if I’d been free to say it, I would have replied:

Reelected with a majority? What makes you think President Clinton could be reelected with a majority when he never got a majority in his two times at bat?

The conversation drifted away from politics and into the realm of work for the next little while, but it veered back onto the subject of President Clinton when one of the guys asked why people would vote for President Clinton if the choice were available. Here is the response from the same guy quoted above:

Clinton was a great president because he didn’t take us into war. Instead, he was a perfect caretaker for the nation as he kicked the ball of problems down the road. It was Bush who couldn’t keep the peace and wrecked the economy. The economy was great under Clinton, and people would vote for Clinton again to bring back that prosperity.

Ah. Where to start with this? Since I was still on the phone with a customer (that call lasted for over three hours), I couldn’t bring up the bubble economy of the dot-com craze, nor could I bring up Haiti, Kosovo, or Somalia to show that President Clinton had no problem with taking the nation to war, ignoring the U.N. as he did so. Remember the huge peace protests in all our major cities when our forces bombed from 30,000 feet? It’s funny that protesters only seem to wind up the anti-war machine when a Republican is in office.

But if there is any definitive reason why President Clinton should never be reelected, it is precisely because he failed to act when it really mattered. This inaction allowed Osama bin Laden to become progressively more bold as he viewed the U.S. as a paper tiger. After all, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Khobar Towers in 1996, two embassies in Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole attacked in 2000. The response was measured at best, and so ineffectually wimpy at worst as to let Osama believe that the U.S. would never respond to an escalated attack. That’s the sort of problem that occurs when a leader kicks the ball of problems down the road, rather than dealing with it himself. If you don’t agree, I have a phrase from history for you to ponder:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

The Senate is debating this week a proposed Constitutional amendment that would define the nature of marriage as being a union between one man and one woman. It is unlikely to pass, but if you have any desire to put in your two cents, you should write to your Senators via their online email form at Senate.gov. I wrote to my two Senators and told them to vote in favor of the amendment. Whether they themselves agree or disagree with the terms of the amendment, I told them that it was important to let the people have a voice in this issue. If the amendment were passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, it would still need three-fourths of the individual states to ratify it before it would take effect. Back in 2004, President Bush introduced the amendment this way:

Eight years ago, Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as the legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

The Act passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342 to 67, and the Senate by a vote of 85 to 14. Those congressional votes and the passage of similar defensive marriage laws in 38 states express an overwhelming consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

With numbers like that, you’d think an amendment would be a slam dunk, but other than Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, all Senate Democrats have declared that they will vote against the amendment. I wrote about the 2004 vote on the same amendment, and how it showed deep disdain for the common citizen. And with the Democrat Senators again posed to vote against the amendment, they will again show with their actions that they do not trust the citizens to make the right decision.

Here is part of a news story from KATV in Arkansas.

… a homosexual pastor here in Arkansas says the government should not be able to decide who gets married.

(Randy Mccain, Homosexual Pastor) “I married my best friend.”

The person Pastor Randy Mccain calls his best friend and spouse is another man — a man by the name of Gary Eddy-McCain. The two have shared their lives more than a decade.

(McCain) “The state of Arkansas gives me the right to marry heterosexual couples, and yet my 14-year loving, committed relationship is not recognized by the state of Arkansas.”

The first sentence is interesting. Pastor McCain states that government shouldn’t be able to have a say about who gets married, but what he wants is for the government to state that he can get married. It’s pretty clear that he’s not that much of a clear thinker with comments like “I married my best friend,” followed up by an acknowledgement that his “marriage” is “not recognized by the state of Arkansas.”

I’ve written about the importance of heterosexual marriage before, and pointed out its benefits:

Marriage is far from meaningless. J. D. Unwin’s 1934 book Sex and Culture outlines 86 different cultures and their historical decline. None of these cultures lasted more than three generations after marriage fell out of favor with the people. Unwin wasn’t the only person to come up with this idea. Giambattista Vico concluded the same thing in 1725. He saw that marriage between a man and a woman was critical for the growth of civilization. It is the “seedbed” of society, and marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment for raising children. Anything that departs from this damages men, women, and most of all children.

I would like the champions of gay marriage to show where and how such unions have been successful over multiple generations. If this cannot be shown, then why should we change a working system for something that has never panned out in the long run?

UPDATE (6/7/2006 11:29:56 AM): The amendment failed to get the two-thirds vote of the Senate to pass. Since 38 states have passed legislation very similar to this amendment, it shows that there is sufficient popular support for this amendment. But the Senate is saying that they know more that the people.

Glenn Reynolds, the Blogfather, has an excellent post about the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government and the latest scandal: the searching of the offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).

MORE ON CONGRESS AND THE SEPARATION OF POWERS: What’s frustrating in these discussions is the failure to distinguish between what the law should be in somebody’s opinion, and what it actually is, based on the Constitution and the caselaw. This entry on Congressional immunity from Jerry Pournelle — a smart guy, but no lawyer — is a good example:

Just as each House is the judge of the qualification of its members, each House is responsible for enforcement of ethics and criminal actions of members. The Houses have sufficient authority to do as they will in those cases.

When you bring the executive power into direct enforcement against sitting Members of either house of Congress, you end the separation of powers. It is easy for the executive to fake ‘evidence’ if it chooses. Once the executive power can intimidate sitting Members of Congress, you have an entirely different kind of government.

Now it is required that the Houses inquire into the criminal actions of Members. But that is done by their own agents, or at the request of the Speaker or President pro tem; not by the executive authority.

Now you may think that this is a good idea — I don’t, but Pournelle apparently does — but it is not now, nor has it ever been, the law. In fact, with the sole exception of impeachment (which doesn’t run against members of Congress), the Congress cannot investigate or try offenses, and impeachment is carefully distinguished from criminal prosecution in the Constitution. The Constitution’s prohibition of Bills of Attainder, in fact, explicitly forbids Congress dealing with criminal matters.

Well worth reading the whole thing. Something that he doesn’t bring up in his article is a Article 1 Section 6 of the Constitution as it deals with the Legislature:

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) tried to invoke the “Speech or Debate” clause of the Constitution even though the all important vote he said he was headed to happened hours earlier. Rep. Jefferson has no leg to stand on because he is under investigation for a felony, and that makes him fair game under the Constitution. This goes directly against the joint statement by political odd-fellows, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

No person is above the law, neither the one being investigated nor those conducting the investigation.

The Justice Department was wrong to seize records from Congressman Jefferson’s office in violation of the Constitutional principle of Separation of Powers, the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, and the practice of the last 219 years. These constitutional principles were not designed by the Founding Fathers to place anyone above the law. Rather, they were designed to protect the Congress and the American people from abuses of power, and those principles deserve to be vigorously defended.

There is something sadly pathetic about watching two grown adults who swore to uphold the Constitution prove that they just don’t understand it.