Gov. Greg Abbott Goes to 11 Gohmerts!
For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Wingularity, it’s something that the commenters over at Balloon Juice came up with a while back. Basically, when we realized that Peak Wingnut is a myth, we realized that wingnuttiness was bound to collapse in on itself. I am unilaterally declaring a Gohmert! is a basic unit of measure for the Wingularity. Zero Gohmerts! is basic rational though. One Gohmert! is the standard wingnut fair you might hear on, say, Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. Limbaugh typically comes in around three and a half Gohmerts!. Palin comes in at 5 Gohmerts! which makes 2 PALINS equal to 10 Gohmert!. Gohmert himself typically comes in at 10 Gohmerts! because this is an entirely arbitrary system and in the words of Eric Cartman, “I’ll do wha I want!”.
Anyway, with that out of the way, Charles tweeted a link about proposed Amendments by Governor Abbott from the great state of Texas. Here are the list of
1. Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state.
2. Require Congress to balance its budget.
3. Prohibit administrative agencies from creating federal law.
4. Prohibit administrative agencies from preempting state law.
5. Allow two-thirds of the Senate to override Supreme Court decisions.
6. Require a 7 justice super majority to override democratically enacted laws.
7. Limit power of the federal government to expressly delegated powers.
8. Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
9. Allow two-thirds of state to override federal laws or regulations.
This is at least 11 Gohmerts!, and I don’t even have a name for that. A few thoughts on all of this. First, he’s trying to bypass Congress by calling for a convention (because let’s be honest you’re never going to get 2/3 of both Houses of Congress to agree on a balanced budget amendment). But there’s a serious danger in that, because there’s really no rules for a convention - the last time we had a convention to offer amendments to the constitution, the Articles of Confederation were thrown out in lieu of the Constitution of 1789. It’s entirely plausible that a convention would result in an entirely new constitution, and its equally plausible that the proposed rights specifically stated in said new constitution would send the Wingularity to 1,000 Gohmerts!, a unit of measure until now never contemplated, let alone named. Now, to the actual proposals by number:
1. My first question is: what constitutes “activity that occurs wholly within one state”? If I go to a Sears store in California and purchase an oven, and that oven was made by GE, and assembled in Georgia, from parts made in six other states and four countries, is that activity interstate commerce or intrastate commerce? If my California business hires a Texas company to extract oil in Texas, refine it in Texas, and then transport it to California, is that interstate commerce or intrastate commerce? And what if instead of transporting it to California it was sold to someone else in Texas, is that interstate or intrastate commerce? These are the kind of questions that have to be answered if you’re going to try and redefine interstate and intrastate commerce.
2. Balanced budget requirements are stupid. Flat out. Several states passed them because they sound good (and state constitutions are easily amended). And now, every time the economy goes bad, the governments have to cut services and funding for important things like the courts (which usually mean people get laid off or furloughed and then have less money to spend, meaning the recession gets worse) .
3. Administrative agencies don’t create federal law. Congress does that. What administrative agencies do is interpret laws by creating regulation so they can enforce the law. This is a basic part of their job, because often laws are vague (they have to be because you need to get a majority of two houses of congress to agree on them), so creating regulations are seen as “putting meat on the bones.” It also allows some sort of uniformity in enforcing the law, because without regulations, interpretation of how to enforce the law is left to individuals and do you really want someone having a bad day deciding if what you’re doing requires administrative action or not? Is it the best system? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s the one we got, and it actually works pretty well.
4. Administrative agencies don’t preempt state law. Congress does that by passing laws that preempt state law under the Supremacy Clause. This is basic constitutional law that someone who allegedly has a law degree should have learned by about week six of constitutional law.
5. Allowing two-thirds of the Senate to override Supreme Court decisions is just dumb. First, do you really want a bunch of non-lawyers ruling on legal matters? That seems like a bad idea. On top of that, what happens when they override a decision? What if there was a split among the Circuits? And what if its a death penalty case, you really want the Senate deciding specific matters of life and death?
6. A 7 justice “super majority” sounds great, until we decide to expand the Court to 13 members, then 7 justices is just a “majority.” More importantly, what’s a democratically enacted law? Is that a ballot proposition? What about a referendum? Or something passed by the legislature (who are democratically representing the people)?
7. Congress (and the federal government) is already limited to expressly delegated powers. The problem is we disagree on what things like “interstate commerce” mean in the modern world. And some people don’t like the fact that Congress has power to enforce things like the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This, more than any other proposed amendment, is just pissing into the wind.
8. State officials already have the power to sue in federal court. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, that’s how we have case law things like preemption of state law. In other words, more pissing into the wind.
9. How exactly would we determine if two-thirds of the states want to override a federal law or regulation? And what if it’s something like the Twenty-seventh Amendment that was passed by Congress 200 years ago and then the states ratified much, much later? How exactly would all of this work? And why would we even want it?
I’m honestly amazed we have actually reached 11 Gohmerts!… I mean, I know I shouldn’t be because we all know…