Thursday, May 18, 2006

No More A Protector Of The Constitution

The Senate Judiciary Committee once again gave the greenlight to a divisive "value voters" issue. The Republican controlled committee voted to send the Gay Marriage Amendment to the full Senate for a vote, despite some very pointed criticism from a certain Wisconsin Senator (from the AP via DailyKos):

A Senate committee approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Thursday, after a shouting match that ended when one Democrat strode out and the Republican chairman bid him "good riddance."

"I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

"If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.

"I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."

Maybe I'm just being too partisan, but I find it rather disturbing that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't see protecting the Constitution as part of his job. Granted, that responsibility is delegated to the President in Article II, but it still seems to me like an elected committee chairman on a committee that oversees issues such as Supreme Court nominations and Constitutional Amendments, should perhaps give at least the appearance of commitment to our nation's founding ideals. Like any good Republican, Specter also has to try and tar his critics with the same lack of responsibility he shows, attacking our nation's finest Senator for his objections. Maybe Specter ought to listen up instead; he might learn something (via WisPolitics):

"Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.

The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor."

I guess his Republican colleagues forgot to tell Feingold that actually caring about our laws and our Constitution is just so liberal these days. That whole "Rule of Law" thing went out of style in 2000, when the Oral Sex Receiver in Chief stepped down. The Republicans have clearly shown that it's much easier to just take our laws and our Constitution as a suggestion; a quaint guide to how government could possibly work if only we weren't under the dire threat of Islamo-fascist Armageddon.

In all seriousness, Arlen Specter may have jumped up a few places on my Most Despised Republicans list lately, both with his utterly partisan backing of the horrid Gay Marriage Amendment and his failure to hold the Bush administration in any way responsible for its trampling of the FISA and the Fourth Amendment. Specter has shown that he's nothing more than a slightly more palatable John McCain, a Republican willing to break ranks with his party vocally but too lacking in principles to actually put his votes where his mouth is. For Specter, it's Republican political goals before all else, with a light dusting of phony ethical pearl-clutching to fool the moderate rubes into thinking he actually gives a damn about our Constitution. I see a committee in desperate need of a new chairman come November...

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