Monday, March 23, 2009

Shredding the Constitution, Again

The Bush Administration was frequently lambasted by their left wing opposition for violating, or “shredding” as it was popular to say, the Constitution. It seemed that the Constitution was at times viewed by the Bush people as an impediment to achieving what they believed were honorable goals. It was blatantly obvious to Bush's detractors, and a number of Federal Judges, that they crossed constitutional lines on a number of occasions.

The term "shredding the constitution" became popular when it became clear that the Bush Administration was deliberately taking unconstitutional actions, hiding them from the public and Congress, and showing utter contempt for those who dared to question their actions. The legal decisions on which they based their actions were generally hidden, and most have been labeled as absurd once reviewed by competent legal experts.

Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution is quite clear, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed or the legal status of facts and relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. A Bill of Attainder is an act of the legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.

It seems that the "ends justifying the means" attitude in Washington did not leave when the Bush Family moved to Dallas. Congress has decided to take a page from the Bush Administration's play book and deliberately violate the Constitution to achieve what they believe are honorable goals. In the political pandemonium that followed the revelations that AIG executives were taking huge lumps of taxpayer dollars in the form of bonuses in return for destroying the Company, Congress played the Bush card. They passed a law which retroactively taxes the unconscionable bonuses out of existence. Denying those who were either incompetent, unethical, or a combination of both the opportunity to fleece the US taxpayers is an honorable goal. However, Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution does not contain an exception for honorable goals. In a news interview, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) never defended the Constitutional footing of the law in question; he simply indicated that the aggrieved executives would have to take legal action to overturn it. This statement infers that he had full knowledge that the law was unconstitutional and that the intent was to force the intended targets to challenge the law in court and face the subsequent negative press.

Clearly the AIG Executives have not earned these massive bonuses. However, a Congress controlled by the Democrats has no more right to "Shred the Constitution" than a Presidential Administration controlled by Republicans. In both cases the Parties involved in the act either new, or should have known that their actions constituted a Constitutional violation. It appears that we have finally found common ground between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington.

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