Friday, September 3, 2021

Against Supermajority Requirements in a Partisan System

(First in a series on needed constitutional reforms.)

Very sharp Twitter commentator Pé (@4everNeverTrump) pointed out that in a two-party system, it is well-nigh impossible to meet a supermajority requirement, and the Founders did not foresee the emergence of political parties. So the US political system and the constitution was never supposed to be as inflexible as it rapidly became, largely to defend the slave system.

The supermajority requirement for constitutional amendments and various legislative actions has not led to a sensible caution in making fundamental changes, but rather institutional rigidity.

  • The difficult of amending the constitution protected slavery for a century. While in theory some retardation in changes to fundamental law is sensible, in practice that retardation seems to operate in favor of the harshest, most unethical law.
  • The supermajority of the Senate filibuster, which is not even part of the constitution, but a rule adopted by the Senate, has made deadlock on any controversial issue the norm of the U.S. Congress. This has made for all manner of mischief. It protected Jim Crow for nearly a century, as well as preventing the passage of anti-lynching legislation. The overall effect of the supermajority requirement of the filibuster ceding leads to Congress ceding power to the Presidency and the Supreme Court, both of which have become far too powerful.
  • The constitutional supermajority requirements on expulsion of House and Senate members make it near-impossible to expel even member of the poorest character. This is part of why people of appalling character remain in both houses.

It also makes hash of the legal system. Liberals applauded the Court of the mid-20ᵗʰ century. Now conservatives applaud the capricious radical-right Roberts Court of the 21ˢᵗ. We end up with a tortured series of decisions based on complicated interpretations of law because the legislature deadlocks on every controversial issue. Surely it would be better if the legislature legislated as was intended, the executive executed that legislation, and the courts make decisions based on it?

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

The Constitution and Founding Fathers are worshipped like Lenin, Stalin, Mao and like Ataturk was before Erdogan. If the Republicans get enough states to call a Constitutional Convention, USA will see a whole new constitution and likely be renamed Gilead.