Friday, November 28, 2008

A Series on the Loss of Rights: Due Process

"Due process (more fully due process of law) is the principle that the government must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a person according to the law of the land, instead of respecting merely some or most of those legal rights. In the laws of the United States (U.S.), this principle gives individuals a varying ability to enforce their rights against alleged violations thereof by governments. Due process has also been frequently interpreted as placing limitations on laws and legal proceedings, in order for judges instead of legislators to guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. The latter interpretation is analogous to the concepts of natural justice and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions."

There are two kinds of "Due Process", Procedural and Substantive. Procedural is the process by which things are done. Due process by procedures. Substantive on the other hand, are the rights given by the Constitution that are byproducts of the Bill of Rights.

Most everything you read these days is geared towards protecting your established rights. What you don't read about is the establishing of those rights.

Congress in it's near limitless power in creating a new law, often takes it upon themselves to use a House Rule to pass laws and not follow the Constitutional processes.

For example, the Senate is to have a Quorum when creating major legislation. In the definition of a Quorum, the Senate "presumes" that a Quorum is present unless someone calls for a roll call. Basically meaning that 1, 2, 5, or so people could be present to pass legislation. And unless one of those people is dumb enough to ask for a roll call vote, they can pass any legislation they want to. Couple that with Adjournment Sine Die, you get a Congress that does what it wants, when it wants, without the benefit of checks and balances.

Congress is supposed to have a quorum present (51%) when creating or passing major pieces of legislation. Congress is supposed to close it's doors at the end of their season. The Senate IS NOT to create legislation, they are to be the "cooling plate" for the House of Representatives.

So here's the question of the day. If Congress uses the House Rules to pass major legislation, are they following Procedural Due Process in the creation of laws? If they are not, are those laws considered to be Constitutional? Should they be "re-argued" with a true Quorum present? Are they completing their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution in the creation of these laws? Are our rights as citizens under the Constitution being protected when they create laws this way?

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