Box of Rocks coasts on to another day of victory
January 10th, 2012
Today the Box of Rocks sat quietly and was bothered by no one. However, Rick Santorum found himself subjected to chants of “bigot” as he entered a campaign event. Which got me thinking, what does Santorum say on his website about matters of equality (Santorum, not santorum… that’s a different website).
In the section of “What I Believe” titled “Appointing Constitutionalist Justices and Judges Who Refuse to Legislate from the Bench”, he says the following:
Rick Santorum is no stranger to the issue of judges. … in 2004 when activist judges sought to legislate from the bench and redefine marriage, Rick spearheaded the debate in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.
First, let’s consider whether that makes any sense at all. As of 2004, not a single Federal Judge had found anything favorable about marriage. However, a number of state judges had concluded that state constitutions disallowed discrimination against gay people and had demanded that either marriage or some equivalent be provided so that citizens can have equal access, so these must be the judges he’s talking about.
Which seems to suggest that Santorum thinks that as President he could appoint “Constitutionalist” state judges. But surely that can’t be the case. Even a box of rocks knows better than that.
But on to his performance. If I were considering how effective a president Rick Santorum could be, I’d look to the issues he spearheaded. And I’d have to say that on the Federal Marriage Amendment, Rick Santorum was a phenomenal failure.
To pass the Senate and be considered by the states, the FMA had to pass both houses of Congress by a two thirds vote. In the House in 2004 that was 290 votes in favor, and in the Senate it required 67. So Sentorum’s goal, his measure of competency, was obtaining 67 Senate votes in favor of the amendment.
There were at that point 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 1 Independent. To achieve his goal, Santorum needed to keep hold of the presumed support of all 51 Republicans and pick up support of a third of Democrats.
But before he could pass the FMA and start campaigning in the states, he had one further roadblock. He needed to get a vote. And if the Senators don’t want to vote on an issue, they can fillibuster – or just keep talking. As long as a Senator wants to talk – be it about the bill or his neighbor’s dog or reading the phonebook (as as happened) – they are entitled to do so.
However, there is a ‘sit down and shut up’ provision to keep any one Senator from disrupting business. If any Senator wishes to end debate and just vote already, he can call for cloture. And if three fifths (60) Senators agree, debate stops immediately and the bill itself is voted on. So before he could get his 67 Senators to send the FMA to the states, he needed 60 who were wanted to take a vote.
He didn’t even get half.
Santorum managed to get three Democrats to vote on whether to vote (Byrd, Miller, and Nelson), but he lost twice as many Republicans who refused to bring the FMA to cloture (Campbell, Chafee, Collins, Snowe, Sununu, and McCain – yes, that McCain). His cloture vote fell flat 48 to 50 (Senators Kerry and Edwards were unavailable.)
So what Santorum is loudly touting on his website is that on the FMA, he is a failure. A colossal failure. The box of rocks doesn’t have a website and is making no claims as to its ability to spearhead anything. On this matter of intellect and wit, the rocks win. Again.
But to really set himself apart from a box of rocks, Rick Santorum goes further to explain his understanding of the judicial process and the roll of the judiciary in a checked and balanced government:
Rick Santorum believes that the Judiciary is a critical part of our system of government, but it is the third branch of government under our Constitution, and should not act like the first. President Obama often prefers when it does legislate instead of Congress. For example, when he refuses to defend the Congressionally approved Defense of Marriage Act.
Okay, it can be difficult to understand the workings of Santorum’s brain, but if I have this correct, when the President chooses not to defend a law he thinks unconstitutional, then the judiciary is acting like Congress. By hearing argument in a lawsuit brought by the State of Massachusetts, the judiciary is, in Santorum’s words, “legislating from the bench” and is “usurping” the role of Congress.
I’m a bit at loss as to what Santorum thinks the Judiciary is to do when a lawsuit is presented. Really, I’m not being facetious. I have no idea what he thinks is the appropriate response when a State sues the federal government for what it perceives to be an encroachment on states’ rights. I suspect that it all depends on what the position of his Church is on the matter.
Although Rick Santorum served in the Senate for twelve years, it’s abundantly clear that a box of rocks has a far better grasp on the separation of powers and role of the judiciary.