Harry declares the Constitution is just a ‘fig leaf’ for the GOP to hide behind

Leave it to Harry Reid to call the Constitution a “hyper-technical” issue and a “fig leaf” for Republicans to hide behind.

Since this a day of the week that ends in “y,” Harry is railing about Republican obstructionism of this bill and that bill, but he seems especially miffed about the blockage of the Violence Against Women Act — where Congress finds the enumerated power to usurp the police powers of the states to pick and choose which crime victims take precedent is another matter entirely.

On his website, Reid notes both the House and the Senate have passed versions of the reauthorization of the VAWA but the House Republicans refused to take the bills to conference.

Harry Reid on May 22. Is he showing how big the fig leaf is?

“Their excuse — a hyper-technical budget issue called a blue slip — isn’t much of a fig leaf to hide their blatant obstruction,” Reid states. “The truth is Republicans are looking for any excuse to stall or kill this worthy legislation. And American women aren’t fooled.”

The blue slip to which Harry refers is merely the House GOP’s way of throwing a penalty flag on Harry’s Senate version of the bill because it includes a provision to pay for the bill by adding a $30 fee on immigrant visas.

But Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution’s Origination Clause says, “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives …” So, the Senate version violates the Constitution.

In Federalist Paper No. 58, James Madison explained that this provision was to assure the power to tax resides solely with the representative closest to the people, those representatives who are apportioned by population, not by state.

He wrote:

“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

Michael Franc, writing at National Review Online, notes the VAWA is not the only bill Reid is pushing while circumventing the Origination Clause. There is also the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, which basically legislates the Buffett Rule.

“Why let a little thing like the Constitution stand in the way of making sure a red-meat, eat-the-rich proposal like this gets maximum media exposure during an election year?” Franc asks.

As is my custom with most things constitutional, I turned to my handy copy of Seth Lipsky’s “The Citizens Constitution: An Annotated Guide.”

He notes that the Origination Clause was a major issue at the Constitutional Convention with Elbridge Gerry saying “taxation & representation are strongly associated in the minds of the people, and they will not agree that any but their immediate representatives shall meddle with their purses.”

Sen. Harry “Meddle With Their Purses” Reid will have no truck with such hyper-technical language getting in the way of whatever he wants to do.

But, speaking of fig leaves, Lipsky tells us the courts have largely emasculated the Origination Clause, which was intended to make it more difficult and inconvenient to raise revenue, because, well, it made it too difficult and inconvenient to raise revenue.

Lipsky reports the Supreme Court rejected a suit in 1906 involving financing of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad even though the bill originated in the Senate. The court sniffed that “whatever taxes are imposed are but means to the purposes provided by the act.” And more recent court rulings have allowed Senate bills to stand when the revenue raised is “incidental.”

When a food safety bill ran into a similar Origination Clause roadblock, a New York Times blogger called it an “arcane parliamentary mistake” and bemoaned the fact that “Mr. Reid would have to spend the better part of a week cycling through procedural votes just to get the food safety bill back on the floor.”

7 comments on “Harry declares the Constitution is just a ‘fig leaf’ for the GOP to hide behind

  1. Dave West says:

    Thank you Thomas. It is always encouraging when you bring the fallacies of Reid et al to the public attention. Your observation that the SCOTUS has, on various occasions, aided and abetted Congress in violating the Constitution is at least as important as the outing of members of Congress who think our Constitution is “an arcane parliamentary mistake”. Sending such people to Congress is by far a greater mistake.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    Harry Reid is a desperate craven individual sliding into senility, I’ve noticed that his features are getting puffy, what’s up with that? “droids”? However, he still has enough sparks coursing through his closing down synapses to follow the lead of his master and commander, Obama. History will record him as an enabler of this president’s policies despite his president’s lack of qualification and credentials. Their house of cards is crumbling yet they proceed as if all is in order, when in the history of our republic has any previous president or senator openly mocked the Constitution? By the way, Senator Patrick Leahy threatened the Supreme Court today if they find against all or parts of Obamacare, I believe we can consider Harry Reid’s mealy-mouthed opinion of the Constitution as another threat for the court to digest. Dick Cheney, when he was VP told Leahy to go “f” himself, it’s time for us to tell Harry the same thing, although we probably should have done that during his 2010 campaign. I’d like to see who else was in the Chamber while Harry was announcing the Constitution moribund, chances are good it was empty except for the camera crews and Harry’s lackey staff.

  3. Bruce Feher says:

    Harry is just pandering to his base; you know, the ever growing something for nothing crowd, freeloaders and most of the 25 million plus in the government Klass.
    Not to worry though folks, soon it will all come crashing down.

  4. Vernon Clayson says:

    Saying Harry is just pandering to his base barely scratches the surface, he’s one individual among many with the same purpose in mind, that’s most members of both houses of the Congress and the entire Obama administration. Instead of using pandering we should consider the entire gang as smug venal liars and thieves. It’s not going to come crashing down, the Marxist infestation is total and none of can live long enough to see the end of it. Harry Reid has 4 more years before he has to come back to Nevada and introduce himself again as Harry Reid from little Searchlight, a son of Nevada, with Nevadans as his only concern. That’s for the public, the movers and shakers in politics and the gaming industry will round up more than enough votes to send him back. The only good news in that regard is he will eventually wind up like that old fool, Robert Byrd, carried in on a gurney to add a vote for a stupid liberal bill advancing socialism. There would be one difference, Robert Byrd, as foolish as he was, carried a copy of the Constitution with him all of the time, Harry Reid has no use for the document.

  5. In four years he’ll be 76.

  6. By the time another term would end, he would be 82.

  7. Vernon Clayson says:

    82 would be a piece of cake, Robert Byrd was addled and frail but he stayed until he was 92, his last official act was to add the vote for passage of Obamacare. They brought him in on a gurney and he waved assent but for all we know the old fool may have been dead like the guy in Weekend at Bernies and one of the attendant senators raised his arm.

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