Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adjournment Sine Die

Adjournment sine die - The end of a legislative session "without day." These adjournments are used to indicate the final adjournment of an annual or the two-year session of a Congress.

This interestingly bland detail introduced itself to me yesterday. As far as I can understand it (not being a Congressman or a Lawyer), this tool is used to close Congress and stop the ability for Congress to pass laws until the next scheduled session.

In case you didn't pick up the connotation there, if it's not used, then any member of Congress can sneak in, and pass laws using trickery. There are documented cases of this. Many laws that are effectively screwing up America today are caused by this very detail. I would elaborate on which ones, but I'm not ready to present such Nationally destructive info as of yet. (stay tuned as I slowly elaborate and give my evidence)

Under the original intent of the Constitution, Congress was only able to act with a Majority. That came to a screeching halt when the South seceded from the Union. Which meant that the southern states were not in Congress. Therefore, not majority could be reached. So, Lincoln wrote a writ to allow Emergency Powers to Congress so that they could get back to writing laws.

One of those nasty powers granted under the writ Lincoln wrote was a little thing called: Suspension of Rules.

I've written about Suspension of Rules before, but here's a brief synopsis. Suspension of Rules allows for the Congress to set aside the normal rules of making laws and pass laws without the normal checks and balances.

After researching this suspension of rules, I became aware that it's existence is tracked back to the 1870's, which would imply the time of the Lincoln writ. Under the Constitution and on major pieces of legislation, it states a need of a 2/3 majority vote. Congress should not have the ability to use the Suspension of Rules to pass major legislation.

Congress does have the ability to create it's own rules in the passage of laws within each House and Senate, but those rules are to help in the making of laws.

The Suspension of Rules is one of those "house rules" that is supposed to be used only on mundane things like the naming of Post Offices and whatnot. It was not meant to be used on major Constitutional issues.

I bring up the Suspension of Rules to illustrate a problem with not adjourning Congress at the end of the session. If Congress is not "officially" closed for the session, someone can come in and use things like Suspension of Rules to pass legislation while most of Congress is not present.

Adjournment Sine Die is important for keeping Congress honest. We may not even have the ability for Congress to use Adjournment Sine Die because we are at a State of War. We have been at a State of War since September 11th, 2001, because the President keeps renewing this decree. While we are at "war", Congress cannot convene.

So, if a controversial law is passed using a "house rule" and not using the Constitutional Rule, should it still be a valid law? Or, should it be considered unconstitutional because Congress didn't use procedural due process to pass that law? If Congress cannot convene, are we given due process when someone in Congress passes a major legislative piece while the session is supposed to be over?


Anonymous said...

The one Flaw I see here is that the President cannot declare war. Only Congress can declare war. Thus, no matter what the President says, until Congress rescinds that declaration, the President has nothing what so ever to do with it.

You do bring up some interesting points though. Regarding the after hours back room discussions. It should be noted that law can only be created in the ACTUAL Hall of Senate or House. This is how they passed their late night bills regarding sex offenders, the medication kick-backs, etc recently.

Avendora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Anonymous said...

Wow, that's crazy man. They should really try to do something to fix that.

Anonymous said...

Did you downloaded Wikileaks docs? Give me link plz
Hope for no silence

Anonymous said...

Nice post, kind of drawn out though. Really good subject matter though.