Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, February 20th, 2013.

Stifling Republican Government Because Freedom


Let us consider what is wrong here

Yesterday, Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose many bills regulating guns. Leara’s bill provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”

“Republican government” in the title refers to republic, “A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them,” says the dictionary. Apparently Rep. Leara thinks this republicanism thing is a threat to freedom, and he’s going to nip it in the bud.

The biggest problem with the bill, however, is that it almost certainly violates the Missouri Constitution, which provides that “[s]enators and representatives . . . shall not be questioned for any speech or debate in either house in any other place.” Although there are very few court decisions interpreting this clause in the Missouri Constitution, the United States Constitution contains a parallel clause guaranteeing that federal lawmakers shall not be called to account for “any Speech or Debate in either House” of Congress, and courts commonly interpret parallel provisions of state and the U.S. Constitution to have similar meanings.

In other words the Constitution protects the freedom of legislatures to propose any damnfool thing they want, because the guys who wrote the Constitution trusted the process of republican government. That is, they trusted the wisdom of voters and the constitutional process by which laws are proposed, debated, passed (or not) and possibly challenged in court if the law is unconstitutional. Leara reveals he isn’t having any of that, and wants to restrict the process to secure the outcome he desires.

Freedom, Mr. Leara? Yep, that’s what he says

Leara’s bill comes amidst a flurry of red state legislation aimed at nullifying any new firearms regulations coming out of Washington in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. (The White House and other supporters of new gun control have said over and over their proposals do not violate the Constitutional right to bear arms.)

Unlike some of the sponsors of those bills, Leara said he doesn’t expect his bill to pass. He filed the bill criminalizing certain bill language to make a point about freedom, he said.

“I filed HB 633 as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” he said in a statement sent to TPM Tuesday. “I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

Are we being nibbled to death by Stupid, or what?

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