October 21, 2004 7:50 AM   Subscribe

The neo-cons are pushing a law through Congress that would "acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty [and] government" in the United States. What's more, it would forbid all legal challenges to government officials who use the power of the state to enforce their own view of "God's sovereign authority." Any judge who dared even hear such a challenge could be removed from office. You don't believe it? It's called Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.
posted by acrobat (64 comments total)
posted by eatitlive at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2004

This cannot possibly be true.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:55 AM on October 21, 2004

If this is true and Bush wins I hate to say this but it's time to go.
posted by photoslob at 7:57 AM on October 21, 2004

Google it. It's true. Did you forget Bush is a fundamentalist who is president because he was ordained by God? Lots of things can happen when the unwashed masses are kept in a state of perpetual fear and ignorance.
posted by fleener at 7:58 AM on October 21, 2004

While this might be noteworthy, we could spend weeks listing all the wacky pieces of legislation that get introduced in Congress. Most of them don't stand a chance of getting out of committee. This is obviously a grandstanding attempt by a Congressman looking to pander to his constituents. Nothing to see here, move along.
posted by marcusb at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2004

American Taliban, indeed.
posted by bshort at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2004

Alan Keys and Zell Miller are some of the chief proponents of the bill.
posted by jonah at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2004

Previously discussed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2004

marcusb - I'm curious about your claim, are there comparable bills to the far left that are in process?
posted by jonah at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2004

Come to Canada, photoslob: we're kinder, gentler, and virtually godless.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:03 AM on October 21, 2004

So....if enacted, this law declares itself immune to judicial review, in effect?

And that's going to be Constitutional how?
posted by alumshubby at 8:06 AM on October 21, 2004

Linky goodness:


September 13, 2004 hearing by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property:
Witness List
Statements by Roy Moore, William Dannemeyer, Arthur Hellman, Michael Gerhardt

Hearing Webcast
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2004

posted by dash_slot- at 8:10 AM on October 21, 2004

alumshubby, you're still living in a fantasy world where overthrow is not possible. If there is a revolution, it will be led by the neocons. They already don't like the judicial system. They'll just abolish it as we know it. That solves the problem on their end.
posted by fleener at 8:10 AM on October 21, 2004

Right, sorry. It's been discussed before, even though it didn't come up in my search. Still, I missed it first time and my eyeballs almost poped out when I read about it this time, so I rushed to a post. And yes, it was troutfishing that first pointed me toward the "dominion" theory (which has been a dark joke in my circles for years).

"This cannot possibly be true.
Exactly the thing everybody said before any shit hit the fan.

Let Matt do his stuff
posted by acrobat at 8:14 AM on October 21, 2004

I suddenly feel very cold and sad.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:14 AM on October 21, 2004

I think the word "neocons" is being used inappropriately here. Most of the "real" neocons don't seem particularly religious. Say, rather, the "far right", the "Christian right" or the "lunatic right".

Or has "neocons" now taken on a new meaning of "anyone I don't like that's to the right of me"?
posted by Slothrup at 8:15 AM on October 21, 2004

I love Vancouver but as a near life-long Floridian it's just too darned cold. I tried the cold thing (Seattle) and it didn't work. Plus I'm going to stick it out and do what I've been doing - trying to inform and educate the unwashed until I'm absolutely convinced no one is listening (looking in my case) anymore.

I agree with marcusb on this one. Just another squirrely piece of law that will go nowhere fast but will whip the constituents into a voting frenzy. Problem is, at what point does this stuff start to fly?
posted by photoslob at 8:17 AM on October 21, 2004

Anyone see The Power of Nightmares, last night on BBC2?
Excellent programme, explained how the Neocons aim is to create warfare with an enemy through deceit in order to create a 'moral order' in the US.

Particularly interesting, was how they made stuff up about the USSR, even taking CIA black propaganda and submitting it as proof of Russian shenannigans - the lies feeding upon the lies - in order to create this (false) enemy to rally people together.

The parallel between their (Wolfowitz, Cheyney, Rumsfeld et al's) behaviour then with the USSR, and now, with Saddam and Al' Quaeda was ... just ... incredible.

Create a false reality about an enemy so that moral order and rectitude can be created in America, through opposition to that enemy.

In light of what I saw last night, this law seems entirely consistent.

Madmen running asylum.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:19 AM on October 21, 2004

posted by Blue Stone at 8:23 AM on October 21, 2004

Photoslob: no problem! Canada is currently negotiating to establish the Turks and Caicos Islands in the carribean as a Canadian territory. I'll see you there! That's where I'm going. ;-)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:24 AM on October 21, 2004

Photoslob: no problem! Canada is currently negotiating to establish the Turks and Caicos Islands in the carribean as a Canadian territory. I'll see you there! That's where I'm going. ;-)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:25 AM on October 21, 2004

jonah -- Some of the lefty bills that have been introduced that will never see the light of day --

States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act

Impeaching Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

To authorize the President to award a gold medal on behalf of the Congress to Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. in recognition of his outstanding and enduring contributions to the Nation.

Slavery Reparations Bill

I'm not commenting on the substance of these bills. Rather, I'm pointing out that these bills come from the left and have as much a chance of passing as the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004.
posted by marcusb at 8:25 AM on October 21, 2004

Again, all the "I'm moving to Canada" talk is boiling my blood. Our economy has been dragged down enough by the little facade to the south. We don't need twenty thousand wards of the state driving up rent.
posted by jon_kill at 8:28 AM on October 21, 2004

Further, The Power of Nightmares looked in detail at how the neo-conservatives set out to ally themselves with the fundamentalist Christians - to acquire them as their footsoldiers. There is no popular neo-conservative movement, but the fundamentalist Christians' wish to see the end of liberalism and liberal democracy makes the two a marriage made in heaven, as it were.
posted by influx at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2004

Marcusb - ".... have as much a chance of passing as the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004." - ummm..... we're living in the same country, aren't we ?

The United States of America ? - Where both Houses of Congress are Republican controlled and the 7 most powerful Republican Senators have a 100% voting approval record from Pat Robertson's "Christian Coalition" ?

Where George W. Bush talks about getting instructions from God ?

That's the country, right ?


Hey! (re MrMoonPie ) Taumeson didn't mention that he'd brought up this subject in February (or I missed it). That was humble.

Here's an extensive and superbly done piece (dated though, from 1994 but still very much worth a read), "Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence" by Frederick Clarkson and hosted at Chip Berlet's "Public Research Associates site".

Coalition on Revival : a Renewal of Old Testament Law

Bush 'Faith-Based' Agenda Spreading In Federal Government, Report Finds

Almost halfway there : training 1,000,000 leaders, at $15,000 per leader, to lead an expected 1 billion new Asia Christians in the next decade, in the implementation of the "Great Commission"

posted by troutfishing at 8:42 AM on October 21, 2004

I see only three problems with this.

First, unless I'm remembering it wrong, in the US military you get sworn to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, before any mention of following orders is mentioned. Second, even if the military went along (a big if -- look what happened when some of 'em got ordered to go on a fuel delivery run), there's an awful lot of gun-totin' NRA folks out there who won't go along with a theocracy the minute the government starts doing things they don't like. (The militia types in the US are nominally Christian but rabidly anti-government: They'll get suspicious if the government tries to "organize" them or even register their firearms.) And third, this sounds like the draft legislation (that got shot down 402-2) all over again -- somebody's trying to use the legislative process to send a message. (I'm guessing the message in question is that it's unconscionable to some people that a popular judge in Alabama should lose his job for putting a statue of the Ten Commandments in his courthouse.)
posted by alumshubby at 8:47 AM on October 21, 2004

troutfishing -- This is the United States of America where it takes a majority in both houses on Congress (in some cases MORE than a majority) to pass this kind of legislation. The Senate might be slightly Republican, but that small majority includes such raving right-wingers as Lincoln Chaffee, Arlin Specter, and Olympia Snow. Seven Senators in the pocket of Pat Robertson is 7 of 100.
posted by marcusb at 8:52 AM on October 21, 2004

Troutfishing if you would start a blog on all this, it would become the first non-MeFi blog I read daily. Please consider it.

Speaking as former evangelical protestant fundamentalist (far moreso than, say, Konolia) turned atheist, I had wondered when all this stuff would start coming down the spike - although I doubt it will be passing anytime soon. My wife and I have been making plans to move to Canada for the past few years targetting about 4-5 years from now. I'm increasingly convinced this is the right move. To you Canadians who don't want a mass exodus of Americans to your country - consider that you'll mostly be getting intelligent , educated liberals. A braindrain from America in your favor could really work out for you guys.
posted by Ryvar at 8:58 AM on October 21, 2004

marcusb, let me clarify :

"[ the graph ] is based on Christian Coalition scorecards, so it shows how often members of the U.S. Senate voted with or against Christian Coalition supported bills. Republicans are red, Democrats are blue. This graph explains why the seven top ranking leaders received scores of 100%. As you can see by the 41 Republican Senators who received scores of 100% from Christian Coalition, 41 out of 51 Republican Senators in 2003 supported the agenda of the Religious Right 100% of the time. One Democrat received a score of 100%. That was Zell Miller, (D-GA) who spoke at the Republican convention. 31 out of 49 Democrats and one independent received scores of 0. "

Meanwhile, " Christian conservatives now hold a majority of seats in 36% of all Republican Party state committees (or 18 of 50 states), plus large minorities in 81% of the rest, double their strength from a decade before. They are weak in just 6 states (plus D.C.), all northeastern. As the study put it, Christians are "gaining influence by spreading out to more states and digging in when faced with opposition." Once dismissed as a small regional movement, "Christian conservatives have become a staple of politics nearly everywhere." (from The Christian Statesman)"


Sojourner's - A Christian Social Justice Group - is collecting signatures for a petition and raising money to place this ad in newspapers around the country :

"God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat"

"...leaders of the Religious Right mistakenly claim that God has taken a side in this election, and that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush.

We believe that claims of divine appointment for the President, uncritical affirmation of his policies, and assertions that all Christians must vote for his re-election constitute bad theology and dangerous religion.

We believe that sincere Christians and other people of faith can choose to vote for President Bush or Senator Kerry - for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values...."

posted by troutfishing at 9:05 AM on October 21, 2004

Ryvar, you'd be welcome here. Jon_kill is wrong - the sort of Americans who'd move to Canada because they can't bear another four years of Bush are exactly the kind of Canadians that would be an asset to our country.
posted by orange swan at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2004

Ryvar - thanks, I will. But - I'm sorry to say - I'm not so sure moving to Canada would insulate you from this.
posted by troutfishing at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2004

equating an incostitutional bill that would turn the USA into a Christian Talibanate with, say, medical marijuana or a gold medal for Jesse Jackson (or even the impeachment of a possible war criminal -- two words: Abu Ghraib) makes one cackle with delight -- MeFi's John Birchers get funnier and funnier, defending the indefensible.
please, tell us how "we're making progress in Iraq!" now
posted by matteo at 9:15 AM on October 21, 2004

I think there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. For example, look further down on the bill to see this little proviso slipped in:

"In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than the constitutional law and English common law."

Talk about major deconstruction! This totally cuts off any non-treaty backdoor efforts of the UN or other international organizations to have their policies recognized as US law by an activist federal judge. It also wipes out the power of the President (long overdue) to make law based on Executive orders (the National Security Agency is based on an Executive order, BTW). This would also knock down huge numbers of bureaucratic administrative regulations with the force of law that now apply to virtually every aspect of the US economy. And, last but not least, it would also wipe clean the TONS of judicial precedent that are not based in Constitutional or Common Law.

The effect of this would be IMMENSE, compared to any "God" changes. In effect, this amendment returns the US to a completely written Constitutional state that hasn't existed since the US Civil War.
posted by kablam at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2004

acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty [and] government"

And mathematics. These guys want to establish a biblical foundation for mathematics.

There's no doubt that Christian Reconstructionists exist and I don't doubt that they want to do exactly what they say--make everything obedient to their Christ (The Institute for Christian Economics provides free PDF files of many Reconstructionist books). But however much ground they've gained in the Republican party, I still think they lack the power to seriously achieve any of their goals. I might be wrong. But I'm not buying my ticket to Canada, just yet.

Famous last words, yes, I know.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:21 AM on October 21, 2004

The gun toting NRA types won't stand in the way of this legislation. I took their handgun training not too long ago (this summer), during their Vote for Bush speech one of their points beyond "Kerry will take all your guns away" was that Bush will bring back God's law. Some NRA members might be up in arms about this talk but obviously not enough that they'd consider resigning from the organization and donating their funds to an organization that only promotes the rights of gun owners.

I don't think this legislation has a chance at passing myself but if it does have gather noticable support don't look for support from anybody but the libertarians and liberals. The NRA is a conservative group, they may deny it with words but they prove it with deeds.
posted by substrate at 9:23 AM on October 21, 2004

"Jon_kill is wrong"... oh I'll just go then.
posted by jon_kill at 9:26 AM on October 21, 2004

A braindrain of liberal, educated people from America right when they need those types of people the most? Sounds good.
posted by jon_kill at 9:27 AM on October 21, 2004

Passing this law would be even more wacky than crowning Sun Myung Moon as the messiah in the Capitol building.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on October 21, 2004

Hey marcusb - why is Lincoln Chafee a "raging" right winger? He's the one who's currently thinking about defecting, which would help to eliminate the Republicans' senate majority.

Other than that, I agree with marcusb completely... various congressmen periodically float tons and tons of garbage bills, like the ones he mentioned but also others like a prohibition on flag burning, etc. Are these manifestly unconstitutional? You bet. Would they be immediately swatted down by the Supreme Court? Boy howdy. I think a lot of them are started to pander to the base, so that whatever member of congress can go home and say "I'm AGAINST flag burning, but those Washington FATCATS wouldn't pass my bill!" Etc.

Speaking of those Washington fatcats: the Senate is traditionally regarded as the "mature" counterpart to the house, historically because it was more like the house of Lords, but now for exactly this reason: they actually refuse to pass bills that are unconstitutional. And bills need approval from both houses, so they keep dying in the senate. Thank God (so to speak).

Regarding this bill in particular, all I really get out of the following paragraph:

"the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review... any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of ... government... by reason of that element's ... acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government."

is that you can't bring suit against a government person for stating that "God is the source of law." It would have no impact on the actual establishment of God as the source of law in the US. It would just "protect" congressmen and whatnot who wanted to run around SAYING that it is.

Of course, I also find it a little creepy for government officials to be running around and, in their official capacity, spouting off about religion. But it happens all the time. Congress opens with a prayer. That's just the way it goes. Strict seperationists have to pick their battles: until someone is actually harmed by a putative establishment of religion, you can't really do anything about it. And congressmen running around saying how Christian they are doesn't seem to cause harm, in and of itself.

Here's the part of the bill that really creeps me out:
"[Title II, Section 201:] In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than the constitutional law and English common law."

This would be terrible. It would be catastrophic. What's going on here is that the conservatives are up in arms about the ruling of Lawrence v. Texas. If you read that case (539 U.S. 558 if you have Westlaw / Lexis -- that link goes to Cornell), you'll see that the Court depends on a lot of "persuasive authority" from outside the U.S., especially sodomy laws in Europe and stuff like that.

To try and prevent this... just makes my jaw drop. This is the way everything's going. International law isn't just the wave of the future, it's increasingly actually necessary for the operation of international commerce. There's really no way to isolate our law from foreign sources. Sure, there's bound to be a little bit of bleeding of principles from one jurisdiction to another, but there's more international mobility than at any time since the industrial revolution, so it kind of makes sense.

You just can't say "don't consider what the rest of the world is doing." It would put us way out of step with the world community, and not in a good way.
posted by rkent at 9:31 AM on October 21, 2004

On preview, what kablam said.

Also, reviewing marcusb's "garbage" bills, I also didn't mean to comment on the content of those bills, just the idea that they'll never, ever pass.
posted by rkent at 9:35 AM on October 21, 2004

You said NRA, I said militia. There's some overlap there, but the hardcore militia types tend to be skittish about anything having to do with government I've met people who've opted out of the NRA for fear that the ATF would use their membership rolls as de facto gun registration! (Yes, they were wearing tinfoil headgear.) The whole reason the militia movement arose was out of a sense that government is getting too big for its breeches. The sorts of folks you tend to see at militia outings might appreciate a theocracy at first if it's making the trains run on time and getting the riffraff off the streets, but let a theocratic government start doing things that have negative consequences for militia and hangers-on -- especially in a politically and socially unsettled country trying to come to terms with a recent Putsch -- and they very well might bite the hand that's fed them. These are the kind of people who view government as the problem and their trigger fingers as the solution.
posted by alumshubby at 9:46 AM on October 21, 2004

rkent - You must be aware of the stances of Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas - quite inclined towards the positions of the religious right, in fact : there's a good chance for several retirements in the next few years.

So, it wouldn't be unlikely that George W. Bush, in a second term, would be able to leave an overtly Christian right court as his legacy.

Meanwhile, as a complimentary strategy, part of the jist of the act in question [ I gather, but I'm not a legal authority ] would be to limit the power of the federal judiciary : that's been an explicit part of Pat Robertson's - and Dominionist - strategy for several years now, I've read.

alumshubby - but, how long would those types be able to withstand the full force of US government power which could opt, as inclined and when convenient, to eliminate pockets of resistance one by one ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 AM on October 21, 2004

trout -- I dunno. How long could the Viet Minh/Viet Cong keep on keepin' on? (They outlasted the French, the Nipponese, the French again, and then the US.) The US revolutionaries, who opposed the biggest empire on earth? Or for a better example, The insurgents in Iraq, who don't seem to have any serious organization? (It looks like it's all improvised, grass-roots stuff like the militias would be.)

Beats me. I'm just borrowing trouble anyway. Like a lot of folks here, I don't think Congress collectively is quite this stupid. Although they did agree to the Patriot Act...
posted by alumshubby at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2004

Hey marcusb - why is Lincoln Chafee a "raging" right winger? He's the one who's currently thinking about defecting, which would help to eliminate the Republicans' senate majority.

You need your sarcasm detector adjusted, rkent.
posted by terrapin at 10:56 AM on October 21, 2004

You need your sarcasm detector adjusted, rkent.

Ayup. Didn't catch the context (Olympia Snow... yeah).
posted by rkent at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2004

I think you're all pretty much overreacting. This bill strikes me as a move towards pandering to the southern anti-gay marriage voters. Every time I hear "activist judge," it's in the context of gay marriage rights.

The representatives that supported this bill can come back to their home districts and rightfully claim that they attempted to stop gay marriage and protected states rights, etc.

Yes, there are some scary people in office right now, but there are also many career bureaucrats that are getting fed up with the lies and secrets. Not only will this bill never pass, but there would be quite a backlash if it did.
posted by LimePi at 11:09 AM on October 21, 2004

alumshubby - they'd do OK in forested areas, I guess. On the plains - I don't know. They'd have to burrow in pretty deep, likes hobbits or dwarves. But in forested areas, at least. Americans might be a little too squeamish about napalming and defoliating their own country - especially because that would make the timber industry really mad.

I think the chances for this bill hinge on the election - on the balance in the Senate on Congress. Tom Delay has proven highly effective at pushing lots of controversial legislation through on surprise votes in the middle of the night.
posted by troutfishing at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2004

Before anyone goes too nuts here, it might be instructive to look at the bills that the Christian Coalition uses to build its scorecard. It consists mostly of abortion issues, with a few issues of the anti-tax/ school choice stripe thrown in.

In other words, all one really needs to do to put up points on the Christian Coalition scorecard is to vote against abortion and for small government. As an atheist minarchist, I agreed with much of the CCs "platform." If I thought abortion was murder (I don't, but I can see why a reasonable person might conclude that it is), I might have a perfect score. And there's no fucking way that I'd want to live in a theocracy.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2004

The intifada and the Iraqi resistance seem to be hangin' in there without a lot of forest ground to hide in.

Like I said, somebody's trying to send a message using Congress instead of Western Union.
posted by alumshubby at 11:42 AM on October 21, 2004

I think the chances for this bill hinge on the election - on the balance in the Senate on Congress. Tom Delay has proven highly effective at pushing lots of controversial legislation through on surprise votes in the middle of the night.

exactly. the PATRIOT act is a perfect example. some lawmakers couldn't even get a copy to read before they had to vote on it. any shit can pass if you slide it through the right way.

unless I'm remembering it wrong, in the US military you get sworn to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, before any mention of following orders is mentioned

what percent of the U.S. military puts the constitution above god? i'm not snarking, just curious. it seems like it will be very important one day.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:02 PM on October 21, 2004

alumshubby, I've noticed with unease that a lot of people who used to be gun-totin don't-trust-the-government types are falling in line with the Republicans. Their rhetoric has changed from don't-trust-the-government to we-must-not-criticize-the-President. Disturbing.

troutfishing, I think the timber industry grows much of its wood in South America these days.
posted by hattifattener at 12:44 PM on October 21, 2004

Don't worry, there are still lot's of gun-totin don't-trust-the-government types. They've just been busy caching weapons and building their bunkers. (seriously)
posted by Tenuki at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2004

In effect, this amendment returns the US to a completely written Constitutional state that hasn't existed since the US Civil War.

Sounds right to me.
A return to the "good old days" is correct dogma for the fundies, the racists and the wing nuts.
Guess which party they all endorse?
posted by nofundy at 1:21 PM on October 21, 2004

An interesting and frightening proposition. While I don't think this has much of a chance of passing at any time in the near future, there are some interesting and unresolved questions as to whether such a law would be constitutional.

The federal judicial power has always been extremely limited as defined in Article 3 of the Constitution:

Article. III.
Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section. 2.

Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State; (See Note 10)--between Citizens of different States, --between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Clause 3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed...

The interesting part here is that section 2, clause 2 seems to allow Congress to pass legislation that would regulate the scope of the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction in much the same fashion as this proposal.

History and tradition since the inception of country have allowed the Court to develop its own jurisprudential methods. The proposed legislation attempts to exploit the opening in Article 3 to permit Congress to regulate and proscribe the manner in which the Supreme Court does its work.

Also, note that the only court created by the Constitution is the Supreme Court. The federal District Courts and Courts of Appeal are the creation of Congress and subject to its rules and regulations.

Admittedly, this is not the forum for anything but the briefest discourse on these topics and I apologize for the limited attention I can give to these topics here.
posted by mygoditsbob at 2:12 PM on October 21, 2004

To me the scary part is what Trout wrote: 4 more years probably gives GWB the ability to add three Justices to SCOTUS. Meaning that much of what this bill and similar efforts can be implemented without legislation, just because the majority of justices will vote in such a way.

Anyway, everyone keeps saying move to Canada but despite Turtles' mention of possibly adding a Caribbean front, there's way too much cold and snow for me too. I'm thinking Australia is a better choice, even if they did just give Howard a fourth term. A nice beach town north of Brisbane would be good--I spent a couple of weeks in Noosa four years ago and will be happy to go back permanently.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:19 PM on October 21, 2004

Kwantsar, that's a valid point except that I see an awful lot of agendas packed into that 12 item list (which shifts, anyway, because it reflects upcoming legislation) :

1) The overall agenda of eventually eliminating the federal government by cutting taxes but not cutting spending (otherwise known as fiscal irresponsibility) so as to force an eventual crisis.

2) Eliminating (eventually) public education.

3) The gradual insertion of religion into government and the destruction of church/state dividing lines.

Those are significant issues.

alumshubby - yeah, you're right. I wasn't considering urban guerrilla warfare.
posted by troutfishing at 2:29 PM on October 21, 2004

billsaysthis - I hate to tell ya, but....

The ausssie religious right is possible worse than the American brand.

It's hard to run from this BS - Europe's better. But the RR - with it's "Dominionist" theology - is going precipitate a world war sooner or later, I'd guess.

Meanwhile :

"Imagining America if George Bush Chose the Supreme Court - By ADAM COHEN [ Op Ed, NYT, October 18, 2004 ]

Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.

It hardly sounds like a winning platform, and of course President Bush isn't openly espousing these positions. But he did say in his last campaign that his favorite Supreme Court justices were Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and the nominations he has made to the lower courts bear that out. Justices Scalia and Thomas are often called "conservative," but that does not begin to capture their philosophies. Both vehemently reject many of the core tenets of modern constitutional law...."
posted by troutfishing at 2:35 PM on October 21, 2004

Trout, if you're right Canada won't be any better protection and possibly less sitting next door. At least Down Under I'll be warm and driving on the wrong side of the road, which is always a good thrill.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:00 PM on October 21, 2004

Since I last posted to this thread, I have been pondering what the US would be like with (my guess) 2/3rds of the federal government (mostly executive branch) dismantled, say, over the course of fifteen to twenty years.
That is, reducing the government to what is expressly permitted in the Constitution, and nothing more--as a thought problem to what these people are proposing.

Here's the A-Z departments and agencies list:

Actually, it's not too hard to figure out what departments and agencies are permitted by the Constitution, by strict construction.
posted by kablam at 5:56 PM on October 21, 2004

"Dominionist" theology - is going precipitate a world war sooner or later

Yes, and I see I sound like the typical European intellectual of the 1930's--"It's not that bad. Nothing to worry about. It can't happen here." Oh, well, Walter Benjamin is one of my idols.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:27 PM on October 21, 2004

octobersurprise - And I'm a REAL conservative, I suppose : expect the worst in people, hope for the best, and keep your guns clean and well oiled.
posted by troutfishing at 9:11 PM on October 21, 2004

After watching tonight's installment of History Alive tonight, "Marijuana," on The History Channel, I had an evilly, scarily, deliciously diabolical thought: What if these people are clever enough to legalize grass at the same time they're consolidating their power, and we all are too busy getting stoned to give a rat's ass?
posted by alumshubby at 9:34 PM on October 21, 2004

alumshubby, there's an upside and a downside to everything but at least we'll all be too stoned to give a rat's ass.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:14 AM on October 22, 2004

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