February 22, 2005

Your Freedom Is Slipping Away

I have updated an earlier posting to report on the unbelievably anti-democratic actions late last week in the Rhode Island State House.

Speaker Murphy and his cronies are stealing our freedom in broad daylight. And they don't give a damn.

Do you?

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Don and Company,

Thanks for posting the link to our WARL streaming. The station is now sports during the day and talk in the evening. Rule Free Radio airs from 6-7. Tony Farr (otherwise known as Tony from North Providence) will begin 7-9 I think this week.

Tonite Bill Felkner returns as our changing scheduled eliminated his appearance last week. Hope to have one of the Brown CRs or students for liberty join us as well.

and now back to the subject of the post.

Process oriented maneuvering at the legislature has aspects that properly breed cynicism, especially given the context in which the current rules were adopted, i.e. reform of closely held processes gerrymandered by the speaker.

However it would be the majoritarian exercise of similar procedural prerogatives contrary to the tradition of minority protections as process assurances that could overcome filibusters of judicial nominees in the Senate. The bottom line is the majority of the legislature can pass legislation (and rules changes) and if we don't like the legislation (or rules changes) they pass we should diselect them.

Most important thing is to support the cohesion of the bipartisan opposition to insure that vetos can be upheld, since they are a constitutional mechanism and can't be messed with in a rules context. And to support the omnibus tax relief legislation that Steve Laffey and Jim Daveys have brought forward around which electoral momentum may be built if the powers that be use new rules to deep six it.

In general, thelegislative process is so damn mind numbing that I don't honestly believe that some of the distinctions in these changes are that relevant. Of course I favor an inefficient legislative process and so regret some changes in that context, but even I think it is silly to be trying to make a federal case out of whether committee consideration of bills at which no public testiomny will be entertained is posted 2 days in advance. This is simply the stuff on which such stellar candidates as Jim Langevin and Mat Brown sharpen knives.

One of the seemingly lesser provisions regarding keeping a record of who testified for or against isn't as relevant one way or another if you don't have the actual testimony. I think it would be good in the long run to have recordings of all these hearings. The congressional record and thomas sites where searchable transcripts of similar hearings are posted are a great example. This would be a significant expense but would be a more relevant advance for policy analysis in the long run than the petty arguing about whether the 3rd reconsideration of some bill in committee was posted two days in advance.

Interestingly such a record would reveal that many legislators and those offering testimony during the writing and revision of the separation of powers question acknowledged that previous courts cases and honest differences in interpretation would leave the operation of the lottery commission especially open to question insofar as legislative participation even in light of the new language.

Since they were changing the constitution they could quite readily have clarified the ambiguous part of the constitution regarding the legislatures exclusive power to regulate the lottery but did not do so purposefully in order to get the legislation passed.

Plain language is the primary tool for assessing the meaing of legislative provisions, however when one enactment conflicts with another the question of whether was understood or considered in the structure of the language is a reasonable analytical tool, indeed it is fundamnetally an orginalist tool. That is why I wish the courts would look to debates on constitutional provisions and the federalist papers and this type of material attended their writing and subsequent adoption.


Posted by: Brian at February 22, 2005 8:57 AM