Legislative Constitutional Review

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

Our leaders take an oath of office in which they pledge to Protect and Defend the US Constitution. They acknowledge that the Constitution is the highest Law of the Land, and that all other laws are subservient to the Constitution.

The US Supreme Court ruled over 200 years ago, in 1803, that they were bound to declare any law that is in conflict with the US Constitution to be null and void. This is called Judicial Review.

The other two branches of our government, the Legislative (Congress) and the Executive (The President), also have this Constitutional responsibility. (To institute Alcohol Prohibition – previously declared Unconstitutional – a Constitutional Amendment was required, and

repeal also required a Constitutional Amendment.)

Congress has a responsibility to NOT enact laws which violate the Constitution. So, for example, Congress MUST NOT enact, and the President MUST NOT sign or enforce law which would:

  • Outlaw all religions or establish an official religion
  • Outlaw the bearing of firearms
  • Allow private home searches without a warrant
  • Allow Americans to be tried twice for the same offense

US Constitution

These examples should be obvious, however in recent years, Congress and the President have passed and signed into effect numerous laws which many observers say are Unconstitutional. These never should have become law without passing through a procedure where the Bill’s Constitutionality could have been weighed by both Congress and the President.

Whatever process that each branch institutes must comply with the Separation of Powers set forth in the Constitution. Each branch, as they review a Bill or Law for Constitutionality, must use only the Constitution and not outside documents which assert intent. Any precedent set by a branch must apply only to that branch going forward.

Action Item: Each House of Congress should set up a Constitution Committee to review all Bills before they may be voted on.

  • The Constitution Committee should be the last stop before the vote on every Bill in each House
  • Any last minute amendments would require Constitution Committee review for those amendments
  • Constitution Committee hearings for every bill or amendment would allow open submission of Constitutional arguments against, and every argument must be addressed, including a cite for each provision showing where in the Constitution that provision is authorized.
  • Every Bill to appropriate money for existing law should require Constitutional Review of the underlying law before the appropriation may be passed
  • Existing laws not requiring appropriations should be scheduled for Constitutional Review on a specific schedule so that all existing laws are reviewed within 5 years
  • The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate should have the authority to return any Bill to the Constitution Committee for additional review before a final vote in that House
  • Precedent from the Judicial Branch may not be used as justification for or against. Only the words in the Constitution matter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s