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Hypocrites, lame ducks, and the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Originally published here on December 19, 2010:

Back in November 2008, after the election, I wrote about the need for a 28th amendment to the Constitution. Said amendment would reduce the length of the lame-duck presidency to a week or less. Among my concerns were national security and the undeserved opportunity for an outgoing president to continue implementing his own agenda.

In recent weeks, and prompted by an article in today’s New York Times, I’ve been thinking such an amendment also should eliminate our lame-duck Congressional sessions. The rationale is the same. Defeated incumbents should not be allowed to stay in Washington to either enact or block legislation. They have been fired by their constituencies. As soon as a winner is declared, the loser’s keys should be taken away, figuratively speaking, and he or she should be escorted from the building for the same reasons as in the private sector — to ensure the ex-employee has no further access to the company’s business or property.

Regardless of how one feels about the recently passed tax compromise bill or the elimination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it’s not right for lawmakers who have been rejected/fired/voted out of office to continue to have a say in the nation’s business while their legitimately elected successors sit powerless for several months.

Currently 39 states forbid lame-duck sessions. It’s high time the federal government did likewise.

Furthermore, given our current situation regarding the filling of a vacancy on the Supreme Court, as well as a similar situation in 2016, we need a law/constitutional amendment stating specifically that a new justice cannot be named to the Court within x number of days before a presidential election. No more hypocritical statements from hopelessly partisan Senators. Create a law saying that no new justices can be appointed to the Court within x days of a presidential election. Period. And eliminate lifetime appointments to the Court. Maybe 20-30 years, but certainly not a lifetime. Not anymore. Times change, often rapidly. And average lifespans are far greater now than they used to be (~78 years today vs 38 years in 1787).

Of course, all this is about as likely as term limits on Congress.

10 Comments »

  1. Talk about the ultimate in hypocrisy. Wouldn’t let Obama appoint a Supreme Justice many more months before the election than what trump has. And speaking of Lame Duke…. if Biden wins, which is looking better every day, trump’s lame duck period terrifies me. He will do anything and everything he can to bring havoc on our government and country.

  2. johnthecook…It is the Electoral College that makes it possible for the less populated States to have their vote count and be meaningful in the Presidential Elections. Our “Founding Fathers” were no dummies! Please re-read or read for the first time the 12th amendment to our Constitution. By the way just WHO were our “Founding Fathers” referring to as the “Supreme Judge of the World” in our CONSTITUTION OF INDEPENDENCE?

    • I’m not sure how the Electoral College is relevant here. I only mentioned it as an aside. This is about the actions and votes of those already in Congress (where the Senate, with two senators per state, gives less populated states an equal voice).

      (Counting the popular vote instead of the Electoral College would mean one man person, one vote regardless of the state of residence. That’s as equal as you can get.)

  3. The make up of the Senate is analogous to the make up of the Electoral College in that both attempt to prevent a controlling influence based solely on a small, but densely populated area.

    IMNSHO — Rural issues are invisible to folks crammed together in densely populated cities and would never be fairly addressed under a one person, one vote scenario… think food and energy prices, wildfires, etc. The opposite is also true. 

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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