Monday, March 19, 2007

Senator Justus is out of order

The KC Star recently wrote that the Republican’s in Jeff City are “retaliating” against freshman State Senator Jolie Justus for proposing an “pro troops, anti-Iraq war” resolution in the State General Assembly. More than 20 other states have brought similar measures up in their respective state legislatures despite lacking the controlling legal authority to do so.

The Star gets it wrong in at least three ways:
1. The Republicans that chair the committees as the majority party determine what resolutions make it out of committee and to the floor for a vote. While Vogel admitted that he is disappointed in the resolution that Justus to introduced he is not even on the committee that didn’t allow a vote, he is not on the Rules Committee he is on the Ways and Means Committee which the Star brielfy noted as an aside—the Star claims that Vogel is retaliating against Justus and not allowing a vote on two unrelated measures in response to the introduction of this frivolous bit of media grandstanding. They did not get a comment from Vogel on why he was not allowing her two unrelated resolutions out of the Ways and Means committee.
2. The Star references the “office of Senator Justus” and uncritically repeats their claim that an anonymous assistant to Vogel told them that Vogel would not allow a floor vote on her other bills because of this introduction of the “anti-war, pro-troops” resolution in the Rules Committee as the Star refers to it. Talk about circumstantial and unsubstantiated. They make an accusation of retaliation based on the claim of Justus’s office that an assistant to Vogel said so…
3. The US Congress, not the Missouri State Senate, is the proper forum for debate regarding issues of national security; the Missouri State Constitution does not give the State Senate the authority to legislate on these matters, that authority is correctly vested in the federal government with the POTUS and the US Congress. Justus has stated that the reason for introducing the resolution was to send a message, “to our delegation in Washington.” But this is a failure to understand high school civics 101. All of the citizens of Missouri are currently represented in Washington by properly elected officials, including 2 Senators and 9 Representatives. It is not the job of the State Senate to “send messages” to the United States Congress--- as elected members of the US Congress are already accountable to their constituencies and can receive messages directly from the people. Our elected representatives in the State General Assembly need not be the bridge of communication to our elected federal representatives. We all have the power to speak or write to each of them directly.

Senator Justus has every right to oppose the Iraq War---she can contact her Senators and Congressman and voice that opposition. She should not waste the people’s time and money in the Missouri State General Assembly introducing non-binding extra-jurisdictional resolutions to send messages to Washington; it is not her forum for political speech as it relates to federal powers or military strategy in a time of war, it is the people’s forum for State legislative business.

See Senator Justus’ blog for more info, and a link to the KC Star for their article.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If, as you claim, "the US Congress, not the Missouri State Senate, is the proper forum for debate regarding issues of national security," I assume you agree that the Senate should not have passed the resolution it did on March 20, 2003.

That resolution was Republican-led and passed 30-2. It remains the official position of the Missouri State Senate and decried "Iraq’s conventional, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons,” which experience has taught us didn't exist. Similarly, the resolution sought to bring "to justice Osama bin Laden and those responsible for terrorist attacks on United States soil”: something that we now know has nothing to do with Iraq.

Surely the Senate should now revise its official position, rather than sticking to that outdated and now highly unrepresentative stance. Do you think that 2003 resolution should continue to constitute the official view of the Missouri State Senate?

5:04 AM  
Blogger djobe said...

Agreed, that original resolution was also beyond the jurisdiction of the Missouri State General Assembly--and should be reversed or rejected on the grounds that it is not within the enumerated powers of the elected state representatives and senators to legislate on anything other than what is specifically included in the Missouri State Constitution---

I disagree with your contention that Iraq didn't have any weapons, we know they did and every intelligence agency in the world agreed, and Saddam's regime was defying the terms of the cease fire in the original Gulf War by not allowing UN inspectors to verify that he was destroying the weapons that he claimed existed. Remember the "no fly zone?" We know he had chemical weapons because he gassed the Kurds, we saw their bodies. The fact that we can't find any stockpiles of weapons does not mean they didn't exist. Similarly, the fact that Saddam gave safe harbor and funding to many terrorist organizations is well documented and verifiable.

You would have the State Senate revise it's position based upon polling data that says that many Missourians now oppose additional troops being sent to Iraq. I would suggest that while that polling data may be true, it's not the responsibility of the Missouri State Senate to send messages to Washington on the people's behalf, we can speak directly to our "delegation" in Washington. If they revise their official position, revise it to admit that the Missouri State Senate has no authority to legislate on these matters.

8:40 AM  

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