Sifting through the Ashes – Part 31. The SCOTUS and the Congress

Greetings and Salutations.

The events of these past few years have caused me to rethink some aspects of Government. I have, over the years, felt that the Court, and the Congress, while sometimes staggering around the path of wisdom like a drunk after hitting his fifth bar, tended to average out, and overall at least did not destroy the country or the progress we have made towards Civilization in the past couple hundred years. America is a babe-in-arms, when compared to most of the rest of the world, and growing pains can be difficult. However I had some optimism we were moving forwards.

Well, I am sorry to say the current administration has demonstrated the weaknesses in our Democratic system. Over the past 40 years, the Republicans have quietly moved to ensure that they were unbeatable, in spite of being a minority party in America. Their efforts at gerrymandering, and voter suppression/disenfranchising have been continual, and have eroded away the foundations of our society. In a properly functioning Democracy (and even the Democratic Republic, such as we live in), ALL Citizens must be able to vote, and pick the candidate they believe will represent them in Congress/the Presidency. However, the Republicans have worked to ensure that now, in most cases, the Candidate chooses the constituents. This has caused a terrible shift of attitude on the part of the Government. It has forgotten that it is the Servant of the People…and now believes it is the Ruler of the People. We fought a war over this that created this country, specifically to KEEP America from becoming a Dictatorship, Monarchy, or similar types of top-down power structures.

I have come to believe that, if America is to survive as a country, and a free society, the next administration must take on the task of making significant changes to both the structure of the Supreme Court, and the Congress. I shall deal with Congress first, as it is somewhat simpler.

I have, for decades gone back and forth on the idea of term limits for Congress. I have, for much of that time, been against them. However, having seen what that has brought us to, I have changed my stance. Right now, Congress is controlled by a few, old, white guys who are dinosaurs. They are doing their best to push America back into the past by at least 100 years. They have the power to do this because they have been in office for Decades. I believe that part of their motivation is an attitude that the Republican Party is more important than the country and Constitution. Part of their motivation is that they are feeling their mortality, and are deathly afraid of losing the power they hold. NONE of these are good reasons to allow them to hold their seats, especially since they have demonstrated that they are quite happy to hold no ethical standards, and will destroy the country in order to cling to power.

Because of this, I would like to see some specific laws applied to Congress.

  1. Term limits instituted. I would like to see limits of three terms for Senators, and six terms for House members. These limits would give both arms plenty of time to become competent and institute legislation that, hopefully, will move the country forwards. This would also mean that a person who was elected to the house, and moved to the Senate, would be in government for close to 30 years…which is a career for most of us. Most importantly, though, it would ensure that the 97% return rate for incumbents would be broken. It is painfully difficult to get new blood into Congress these days but it is only through new points of view that the country can truly move forwards. In addition, this would make it far more likely that Congress would actually reflect the demographics of the country. As I mentioned before, much of Congress consists of Old, White Guys…and yet the country is far from looking like that.
  2. I would also like to see the standards for Congress people be tightened up a bit. The Ethics committee should be given more power to sanction. Congress, as a whole, should be more likely to sanction Members who engage in blatant lying and rabble-rousing to push their agenda. Our Representatives, both in the House and Senate, should be the best of the best…not the childish, agenda driven reactionaries that are a feature of it now.
  3. I would like to see an improved method of creating Congressional Districts be implemented. Specifically, I would like to see the task turned over to a Bi-Partisan committee. This committee would hash out the parameters of what a District should look like. Then, one of several, very good, computer controlled, mapping programs out there should be used to draw the districts. The committee should only become involved in this process when the software hits a situation it cannot handle. This, by the by, would generate HUGE support for the Census, as the more data available about an area, the better the job of drawing the boundaries could be. This would, if done properly and with attention, eliminate the disgusting gerrymandering that has gone on for too many years.
  4. I have to say, also, that the idea of a vote of No Confidence is looking better and better all the time. If a decent percentage of the citizens in a district could sign a petition to recall and replace a Representative/Senator, that would also go a LONG way towards keeping them attentive to the needs of the constituents, and not so likely to focus on their own agenda.

Now, as for the Supreme Court. The Court has consisted of 9 Justices for over 100 years. Yet, the world today has changed radically from then. Because of this, I would like to see the Court changed in the following ways:

  1. I would like to see the number of Justices increased by quite a bit…say, to 25 or so members. The Court has a huge backlog of cases that have been pending for years now. The number of these cases is pretty much guaranteed to increase, as the population of the country grows, and more laws are instituted. This backlog could be attacked by setting up sub-courts of, say, 5 Justices, who would look at the cases and come to a ruling. Those Rulings could be, then, brought before the entire Court, and affirmed before becoming the Law of the land.
  2. The composition of the Court should not be controlled by the Party currently in power. Rather, I suggest that there should be equal number of Right-wing, Left-wing, and alternative views represented on the Court. This limits would be permanent, and NOT open to change. America has always been a diverse society, and when a Party packs the Court with Justices that only support their agenda, the concept of blind justice goes out the window. There was a time, decades ago, when the Justices could, to an extent, go beyond their personal affiliations, and work to objectively interpret the Law, as based on the Constitution. This administration has destroyed this I fear, and so we must make sure that extreme partisanship cannot infect the Court again.
  3. I would like to see requirements for some competency for Justices, both in the Supreme Court, AND other Federal Justices. In the history of the country, we have never seen Justices appointed that the American Bar Association has rated “Not Qualified”. Yet, this administration has done this many times. Nominees should not be seated unless they have spent some years actually hearing cases in the court system. Again, QUITE a few of the Federal Judge nominees do not have ANY courtroom experience.
  4. The idea of life-time appointments was written in at a time when the average life span was 35 years. Now, it is not unusual to see people living into their late 80s/early 90s. I am an old, white, guy myself, but I look upon people holding power for that long, without consideration for the changes that old age brings on us with some horror. I suggest that a Nominee for the Supreme Court be older than 35, and that they have to retire from the Court at the age of 75.

Of course, I would insist on these changes being implemented as Laws, with no Sunset rule attached.

While everyone has specific objects for these changes, the reality is that a HUGE part of the problems we are having today stem from these issues. We have to struggle through today, but, by making these changes, we may help keep America from, ever again, ending up on the self-destructive path it has been on thanks to the insanity of the current administration.

God Help Us All.

Be safe…wear your mask, wash hands well, and socially distance.

Bee Man Dave.

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