Tuesday, March 22, 2005

constitution shmonstitution

thanks for all the response to the below post (and thanks to tas for coming up with this and atrios for drawing so much attention to it). after reading the comments, i'm no longer completely convinced that the schiavo act is unconstitutional anymore. at least it's not the slam dunk i initially thought.

as andrew gill pointed out, the senate rules essentially give a presumption that there is a quorum unless there is a quorum call. while, on it's face, it seems a little ludicrous to assume there is a quorum of 51 senators when there are only three people in the room, it's apparently worked that way for a while. overturning the schiavo act on that grounds would open a huge can of worms, calling into question all kinds of statutes that have been passed over the years.

at the same time, the senate rules can't blatantly violate the express quorum requirements set forth in article I, section 5. but given how well established this quorum call procedure is, and the fact that neither i nor commenter matt taylor could find any case which overturned a statute on those grounds, i think a court would be a little reluctant to rule on the constitutional issue. (besides, this morning it looks like they won't have to)

but that's not to say it's not worth a try. if i were a lawyer in the case, i would certainly give it a shot. why not? besides, wouldn't it be funny if this stupid P.R. stunt resulted in a decision that screwed up the way the senate conducts all of its business? it would serve them right.