Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mental rabbit chase

During the last Presidential ruckus, various folks were exposed to the whacky world of citizenship as it relates to the ability to run for the office of POTUS.

Part of that ruckus involved the Senate passing a resolution declaring that Senator McCain was a natural-born citizen, an act that I found to be completely unnecessary and little more than a "bread-and-circus" act for the gratification of the Public.

It was only later, during a informal debate with a political figure that I learned -- to my horror -- that it appears that most law-makers were actually taking that resolution seriously.

When I pointed out that the First Congress of the United States had actually put that question to rest some centuries back, this lawmaker was flabbergasted.


I hereby offer to sponsor the 28th amendment to the United States Constitution: "The possession of a law degree hereby bars the person so possessing that degree from holding any elected office at the Federal level, as does the possession of a degree in political science."

We've got enough lawyers and PoliSci types in Federal Government now -- and look where that's gotten us. We need more historians in Congress, and fewer lawyers. That way we might actually be able to avoid passing laws to cover things already dealt with.

That, and the whole "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" thing.

Just a thought.



Jerry said...

I don't know, Walter Cronkite was a historian and very liberal. Some folks think that just because it happened to that poor country it will not happen here. They reason that because they have a say and their say will prevent it.

Medic3 said...

Alternately (or in addition) can we sponsor an amendment that those passing laws that are unconstitutional or otherwise illegal are not shielded from the appropriate civil and criminal penalties?

Regarding civil suits for these illegal law makers, I propose that we actually allow some lawyer enrichment by establishing civil suits automatically against any politician that votes for those illegal laws. The suits are to be directed against the individuals' funds, not the federal treasury. Individual citizens may opt-out of automatic civil suits for being deprived of their protected civil rights if they do not believe that they were infringed. Doing so reduces the count by 1 for each citizen that opts out.

Where appropriate, I think that criminal charges are also appropriate for these politicians. Remember that according to Samuel Clemens, they are the only distinct criminal class in America. These charges should not be left to the discretion of prosecutors that are appointed by those politicians.

Guilty findings in either civil or criminal trials should then result in expulsion from office and ineligibility to hold further elected office.

Only problem I see with this is that we would eventually run out of politicians. Er, did I say problem? Anyway, I know that they would never knowingly pass this, but it seems that our Congress is willing to pass other legislation while publicly stating that they never read it. We just need to give it a catchy name that has nothing to do with the actual purpose.

Borepatch said...

LawDog, this is genius. A grateful Republic thanks you.

Old NFO said...


Crucis said...

Why restrict that to only the federal level---make it for any elected or appointed office too!

Gotta be safe in all areas.

Linda Wyatt said...

I always liked the idea I read in some story years back, where the only people allowed to be elected to anything were the ones who didn't want to be.

Don said...

Hilinda, if you think the verbal gymnastics are fun today, just wait until the ambitious politicians have to meet some minimum standard of appearing not to want office.

wolfwalker said...

You can word it more simply.

"Any person who holds a degree in law or political science is ineligible for the offices of President, Representative, Senator, or any position requiring confirmation by the Senate."

And to forestall the inevitable attempt at evasion:

"The practice of law or holding of a judgeship in any jurisdiction shall be considered the equivalent of a law degree."

Anonymous said...

For years, I thought I was the only one to have this opinion. It's nice to find another who feels the same way. The only other provision I would like to see as a requirement would be the requirement to have served in the U.S. military and received an honorable discharge. A little grounding in the consequences of sending our young men in harms way would'nt hurt, and would help in eliminating the nepotism so evident today in politics.
Paul in Arlington

TOTWTYTR said...

LawDog, the only flaw in your amendment is that it should bar holding elected office at ANY level, not just the federal one.

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Bergman said...

I have long believed that what we really need is to give the Constitution some defensive teeth. Pass an amendment extending the definition of Treason to include knowingly and willfully subverting the spirit or letter of the Constitution by an elected official. This would have the wholly-intended consequence of reducing the number of politicians who are also lawyers, since a lawyer would be unable to assert a lack of knowledge of the Constitution.

But I find myself wondering something about that Senate resolution...does this mean that the Senate resolution is a de facto statement that McCain was somehow a proscribed person, prior to the resolution?


Rabbit said...

I'm comfortable with that. Incubus #1's significant other is wrapping up what passes for an expensive law-school education and she's completely insufferable.

I also consider Heinlein's writings in TMIAHM regarding a bicameral house- one can pass legislation only by a 2/3 majority of assent, while the duty of the second house is to review said legislation and may repeal it by a 1/3 vote.


Anonymous said...

According to the preceding page, the statute quoted was repealed on January 29, 1795. Any idea what the current law actually is?

Anonymous said...

Great Post

Rick R. said...

Um, Wolfwalker?

There are positions within the legal profession that require Senate approval.

Such as judges.

You're proposed amendment would mean that the instant a judge is confirmed by the Senate, he is automatically ineligible to hold the office.

And I think it would be nice if the Attorney General actually had a law degree. Preferrably with a speciality and experience in criminal law. . .

Jon said...

If our Supreme Court wasn't filled with members of the fraternal order of legal wizards, your post wouldn't be needed.

Oh well, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and the cost is getting too high.

wolfwalker said...

Rick R: Ah, but by then the judge has already been confirmed, y'see. ;-)

Seriously, I suppose that is a small hole in an otherwise fine and workable idea. So limit it to executive-branch positions that require Senate confirmation.

As for the Attorney General, the idea of a nonlawyer running the Justice Department rather appeals to me, much like civilian control of the military. And I don't recall any law that says you have to have a formal degree in a subject to be an expert in it.

Da Curly Wolf said...

Ohhh, I like. I've got tentative suggestions for 2 more but they need to percolate a little more in my [according to a certain Senator] "evil-monger" brain; before I suggest them.

Rick R. said...


What is relevant is NOT the current law as to children born to US citizens abroad whose fathers are not US citizens, but what was applicable when the person in question was born.

Of course, if said person was actually born within US territory, then the status of the father (or mother) is irrelevant, UNLESS that poarent is an accredited ambassador or similar foreign goevernment official "not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" (i.e., "diplomatic immunity").

Yeah, I believe that Obama was actually born in Hawaii. I just wish that he would go ahead and release the damned long-form BC (which Hawaii has confirmed the ORIGINAL is still on file) and shut these paranoid idiots up.

And no, the short form does not establish that he was actually born in Hawaii -- the short form would look the same if he was born in Honolulu as if he were born in Hong Kong and the birth registered with Hawaii later. My short form BC isn't good enough to get me a passport, either -- but a certified copy of my long form IS. Because there's more information on the long form to clear up any questions. . .

Obama signs ONE release form, and this whole mess goes away and leaves the birthers 100% discredited.

Anonymous said...

Leaves the birthers discredited. Yes. The leader of whom is a life-long Democrat activist.

Somehow I think that little fact will escape the media.

Lawyer said...

Hmmm...Ok. I won't be running for office, then.

I don't think I'm electable anyway. I've never been good at the whole "tell them what they want to hear" thing.

I'd rather take the time to know what I need to know and then do what I have to do.

Principled, not popular.

Rick R. said...

Yeah, they always seem to "forget" to mention that the "birther" business springs from a HILLARY supporter. . .

Anonymous said...

I've seen a couple of articles proferring the position that any Attorney licensed to practice at the Federal level is already proscribed from holding any position in the Legislature or Exective-branch.

And it actually makes perfect sense!

As most of us will know, an Attorney is considered "an Officer of The Court" - thus, he already holds a position in the Judicial branch of the Federal Government.

Thus, for him to hold a position in any OTHER branch would be a violation of the separation of powers.

Give it some thought, and I'm reasonably confident you will - as I did - have difficulty refuting the premise.

Any Atty who is licensed to practice in a Federal court should simply not be allowed to hold any elected or appointed office in either of the other branches.


And it doesn't even require any more laws!!


Rick R. said...


While an attorney is "an officer of the court", he is NOT a member of the judiciary (federal or otherwise).

This is just another attempt to make the "Titles of Nobility Amendment" (which failed to pass 200 years ago) apply.

Legman688 said...

Uh, Lawdog, I AM an historian (Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M) and I will tell you NO, you DO NOT want us in positions of political power! Actually, academics in general make very bad politicians and leaders. They have zero experience with wielding power of any kind and are generally riven with insecurities. The result is often petty tyrants.