Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, October 01, 2004

Changing the Rules, or Ignoring Them?

In today's Times-Picayune, Jarvis DeBerry has a column entitled "The House Tries to Change the Rules." It will probably be available on-line later today or tomorrow, but for now let me just summarize his argument. It seems the House of Representatives is trying to pass a bill that would forbid the Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of the issue of the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. To quote from Mr. DeBerry:

"A majority of the members of the House decided last week that our country's system of checks and balances - which we all learned about in civics class - can be set aside at Congress' discretion.
Lawmakers are declaring their superiority over the judicial branch, and that should frighten all Americans, no matter their allegiance to the Pledge. ...Still, we as citizens would be foolish to quietly acquiesce to this legislative grab for power. For if Congress gets away with this one, who knows what other issue it will try to move out of the range of the judiciary?"

Mr. DeBerry fails to impress me when he relies on what he learned in "civics class" rather than what the Constitution actually says. For if he had bothered to dust off his copy, he might have found Article III, section 2, clause 2, which states that in those cases where the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction, Congress is entitled to make whatever exceptions and regulations it wants. In other words, far changing the rules in midgame, it seems that someone in the House of Representatives actually read the Constitution and discovered a rule that is as old as the system of checks and balances itself.

Query: is DeBerry's utter failure to note this important tidbit the result of deliberate misrepresentation, or just a demonstration of his ignorance on the matter?