By Devvy Kidd
US Senator Robert Menendez
The Outlaw Congress in Washington, DC continues to break the law everyday as if there is no U.S. Constitution. Both parties are guilty of driving this republic into financial ruin while talking out of both sides of their mouths. They will say anything for a vote as we've seen recently regarding Connecticut's Attorney General's race for the U.S. Senate.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, looking to replace outgoing Sen. Christopher Dodd, lied about his military record. He didn't misspeak; he's a liar, plain and simple. Not a problem for the morally and ethically bankrupt Democratic Party: "Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters today that he and his committee are sticking by Richard Blumenthal, in the wake of the New York Times' report that the Democrat running for Connecticut Senate has exaggerated his military record.”
Eighteen states of the Union allow recall at the state level. It's unfortunate more citizens in those states haven't taken advantage of removing corrupt officials, but in the larger states, it can require hundreds of thousands of signatures; in some cases a million or more. But, I always say if you want something bad enough, you'll go after it.
This November only 1/3rd of the illegal U.S. Senate is up for reelection. A group of fed up citizens in New Jersey have had it with Sen. Robert Menendez and want him gone. They also don't want to wait until 2012 to oust him - if even possible. A recall effort began with the petition process. A three judge panel (state appeals court) ruled March 16, 2010, that the petition process could move forward, but also stated: “But noting the absence of case law and precedent, it left the ultimate question of the constitutionality of the state's recall law and amendment to a higher court.”
This didn't sit well with Menendez, calling the effort a publicity stunt and issuing this rant: “This is an organization trying to undemocratically and unconstitutionally overturn an election in which more than 2 million New Jerseyans voted,” said Menendez, whose term expires in 2012. “My focus continues to be on job creation legislation and delivering a successful extension of my local property tax relief bill.”
The court also said this: "The court found existing New Jersey law and the state's constitution both allow U.S. senators to be recalled. For that reason, the appeals court said, the removal effort can proceed. "There are a host of genuine arguments and counterarguments that can be articulated and debated about whether or not the Federal Constitution would permit a United States Senator to be recalled by the voters under state law," the appellate judges said.
Which brings us to the meat of the issue. Long ago and far away, and like many others, I wrote that the effort to enact term limits on members of Congress would be shot down by the courts. It was in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v Thornton  - U.S. Supreme Court - Decided May 22, 1995.
The U.S. Constitution makes specific reference to the length of time representatives and senators would serve between elections:
Art. 1, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
Art. 1, Section 3: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.
It doesn't specifically state a restriction as to how many terms a representative or senator can serve. Of course, back then, the framers could hardly imagine professional political prostitutes would stay in Congress 15, 20, 30 or more years. Rep. Charlie Rangel [D-NY] going into year 40. Sen. Roberty Byrd [D-WVA]: 51 years. Nutty Nancy Pelosi [D-CA]: 23 years. The utterly incompetent, Rep. Wally the Waffle Herger [R-CA]: 23 years. Bumbling Sen. Carl Levin [D-MI]: 31 years. Crook, Sen. Diane Feinstein: 18 years. Kill American jobs Congressman John Boehner [R-OH]: 19 years. Strom Thermond [SC] States Rights Democratic (1948–1954): Democratic (1923–1948, 1954–1964); Republican (1964–2003) stayed 47 years until he died. How absurd.
The non-ratified Seventeenth Amendment destroyed state sovereignty by removing the right of the state to representation in Congress and turning it over to voters to elect a U.S. Senator.
I raised this question in my presentation on the Seventeenth Amendment: "The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose, Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate....
“Since several states were out of session at the time of the vote, have they been deprived of equal Suffrage in the U.S. Senate because they did not participate in the ratification of this amendment? Is fraud (non ratification) enough to allow a state to declare it null and void in their state? No action taken on the ratification: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware. No record for Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington State.”
The framers of the Constitution wanted we the people to have representation in Congress; the U.S. House of Representatives became that body. They desired that the states would receive equal representation; that became the U.S. Senate. Otherwise, why have two bodies in Congress? If they were all to be elected, why not just one - the U.S. House of Representatives? The few and limited legislative areas for the Senate could have easily been rolled into one body if they were all to be elected. But, they weren't.
Senators appointed by the state legislatures is no small matter since the Senate ratified treaties (i.e., NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, WTO, UN) which directly affect the states. Confirmation of cabinet members like the Department of Defense, which directly affects all states of the Union. Confirmation of federal judges and U.S. Supreme Court Justices, whose decisions have a direct impact on the states. That is why the Seventeenth Amendment is so egregious to the suffrage rights of the states of the Union. The state legislatures no longer had the right to appoint their representatives to go to Congress and recall a senator who voted against the interests of their state. Now it would be left to voters -- too many who have zero understanding of the cancers eating away at this country; they vote for a name they've seen on a sign or who their party tells them to vote for. Special interest voters who have no regard for the U.S. Constitution and illegals voting have contributed to the mess in which we find ourselves.
As we can see, there is also no specific mention of recall in those two sections of the Constitution. While I wished it otherwise, I believe a member of Congress cannot be recalled. It would require a constitutional amendment. There have been numerous attempts over the years, which I have covered in past columns; none successful. If memory serves me correctly, it has been due to lack of money to obtain the required number of signatures.
The term of service for representatives and senators was specific in the Constitution, but no cap was put on how many times they could serve or recall. As I understand the issue, the framers wanted uniformity: A set term between elections for all members of the House - two years. The Senate to serve six years. I believe this was done so there wouldn't be a hodge-podge from dozens of states.
But! There is a fly in the ointment so to speak. Recall what the court said in its decision to allow the petition process to proceed: "The court found existing New Jersey law and the state's constitution both allow U.S. senators to be recalled." This I did not know until I read about this particular recall, so I went and looked at the New Jersey State Constitution. I might add a very politically incorrect Constitution (1947): “We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
Art. 1, Section 2(b) reads:
b. “The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for such recall elections. Any such laws shall include a provision that a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled. If legislation to implement this constitutional amendment is not enacted within one year of the adoption of the amendment, the Secretary of State shall, by regulation, implement the constitutional amendment, except that regulations adopted by the Secretary of State shall be superseded by any subsequent legislation consistent with this constitutional amendment governing recall elections. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.”
Now, we have a different dog fight. I am on the side of recall, but I don't believe using the Tenth Amendment is going to win the day for this argument, but I could be wrong. I've also been trying since 1993 to get one state to challenge the non ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment. A lot of time and misery could have gone away. In any event, the New Jersey Supreme Court will take arguments on May 25, 2010.
Just one update: "The state of New Jersey has apparently decided it will not join the appeal to stop the Tea Party effort to recall Menendez:
"While the State's position on federal constitutionality remains the same ... it is mindful that the Appellate Division correctly pointed out that a condition precedent to any recall election--obtaining the signatures of approximately 1.3 million registered voters within 320 days--may never come to pass. Repeatedly invoking principles of judicial restraint, the Appellate Division stated that "[t]here is, and there will be, no necessity for our courts to resolve this difficult constitutional issue if the (plaintiff) Committee's petition drive fails to collect the necessary, approximately 1,300,000 signatures. The State will not seek to overturn this exercise of judicial prudence and restraint."
The outcome of this case will have a profound impact. While I would like to see all 100 current U.S. Senators tossed out of office, I still believe the original intent of the framers was to see that both the people and the states were represented in Congress. That is why there is a House (for we the people) and Senate (for the states). However, since few care that the Seventeenth Amendment wasn't ratified by enough states, and not a single state seems to care about their right to representation in Congress, right now it is up to the courts.
It is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in my humble opinion, would be a tragedy considering one of the justices, Sonia Sotomayer, should have been indicted for being a willing participant in a cover-up in concealing assets as part of a judicially run and tolerated bankruptcy fraud scheme. She also lied on the required documentation submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She later corrected her lies. That judicially unqualified justice (qualified because of her ethnicity and female plumbing) should have been indicted long ago. The Democrats are determined to get another miserably unqualified (except for being a liberal, activist female) candidate, Elena Kagan, confirmed and on the bench. The Republicans will do their usual and cave as they did with Sotomayer.
Which brings to mind: "At the establishment of our Constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions nevertheless become law by precedent, sapping by little and little the foundations of the Constitution and working its change by construction before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account." --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823. ME 15:486
Devvy Kidd authored The Booklets, Why A Bankrupt America and Blind Loyalty: 2 million copies distributed. Devvy appears on radio shows all over the country. She left the Republican Party in 1996 and has been an independent voter ever since. Devvy is a constitutionalist who believes in the supreme law of the land, not some political party. Visit Devvy's website at: http://www.devvy.com. You can also sign up for her free email alerts. Devvy's radio show broadcasts Mon-Friday: for details go to Devvy's site. http://www.renseradio.com/listen.htm