As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Suing the President

House Democrats attempt to enforce the laws against a runaway autocratic executive. It's not enough of a familiar story.

Eleven House Democrats said Thursday they would sue the Bush administration, alleging the $39 billion deficit-reducing legislation signed by the president is unconstitutional because the House and Senate failed to approve identical versions.

The lawsuit, led by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, was to be filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other states by an Alabama attorney and a Florida-based student loan consulting firm.

"Once again the administration is playing fast and loose with the Constitution," Conyers said. "Anyone who has passed the sixth grade knows that before a bill can become law, both Houses of Congress must approve it."

A version of the bill that was narrowly approved by the House on Feb. 1 contained a clerical error. That error was fixed when the bill was transmitted to Bush, who signed it Feb. 8.

The White House and House and Senate GOP leaders have said the matter is settled because the mistake was technical and top House and Senate leaders certified the bill before transmitting it to the White House.

If the mistake was so technical, have a revote in the House and fix the technicality. I don't see how anyone would change their vote based on a two-word clerical change. Then we could put this to rest. By saying that "a couple leaders" certified the bill you've disenfranchised about 275 million people. As far as I know all Congressmen get to vote, not a couple at the top.

The point is that Republicans don't want to follow the law because they don't think it applies to them. They also don't want to redo what was a very close vote (2-vote margin, I believe) that calls for cutting education, cutting healthcare, and cutting social programs. They managed to get it through and they don't want to call attention to it before the midterms, when more people are paying attention.

The law doesn't say "The President can sign a bill into law if it is passed by the House and Senate, and it's mostly the same, you know, within a few words or something." Not how it works. We are a nation of laws and the current group in power is way too cavalier with them. This is arguably the least egregious thing they've done. But you can't cut corners on the law, despite the inconvenience.