Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Key issues"

US midterm elections are due in November, and so the Republican-dominated Congress is going through the usual pre-election charade of holding votes on constitutional amendments on "key issues". What do Republicans consider a "key issue"?. Well, first, it was gay marriage, which was successfully filibustered by Senate Democrats. Then last night it was the regular vote on a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag-burning, which failed by a single vote. Next, they'll probably be doing abortion, since nothing gets the religious fanatics riled up and ready to march to the ballot box with flaming torches like the thought that women might be allowed to control their own bodies.

Meanwhile, the US deficit continues to climb, inequality and economic insecurity continue to grow, forty-six million Americans have no health insurance, and the President continues to erode the constitution and transform America into an absolute monarchy. But I guess none of those things are "key issues"...


Now, the Gay Marriage amendment was certainly a pre-election charade (it was obviously not going to pass with the required 2/3's) but I disagree that this was.

Proponents of a flag-protection amendment have been trying for a very long time to get one through, and though you may disagree with their reasons for doing so, they have substantial support from the public across America.

All 50 States (inlcuding, obviously, all the Democrat strongholds) have requested that Congress propose an amendment to the Constitution allowing the prohibition of flag desecration.

The arguments that appear to have been mooted in opposition to it are also rather lacklustre:

"But opponents, who included 30 Democrats and three Republicans, said a constitutional amendment would violate the First Amendment right to free speech."

I think they're getting mixed up with Hilary Clinton's alternative that would have banned flag desecration by law - which would have been unconstitutional and would violate the first amendment. Now, suggesting that Congress pass unconstitutional laws is surely far more dodgy than what happened and that proposal was surely electioneering.

Now I'm not sure where I stand on the flag protection amendment itself, especially given that my first case out of law school was Paul Hopkinson's appeal, but to suggest that this is some sort of election stunt is a little mean. I don't believe this is the first time this matter has been reaised in this Congress, it's just incredibly close (one vote changed or abstention and it would have gone to the states).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/29/2006 11:15:00 AM