The Supremes’ power
In your June 8 Views section, Cass Sunstein comes down on the side of James Madison when it comes to amending the Constitution only on “great and extraordinary occasions” so the process will not be influenced or swayed by popular and populist passions. What Sunstein is not aware of is that the Constitution is being amended behind the scenes on an almost monthly basis by the ruling body supposedly dedicated to its integrity, one that is supposed to grant deference to the people’s elected representatives.
Every time the U.S. Supreme Court declares anything to be unconstitutional or issues an edict of any form, that edict is effectively an unwritten amendment to the Constitution, because it can only be changed by a reverse ruling by the court or by an actual amendment to the Constitution. The court’s power to define the Constitution is absolute, open-ended, untouchable and irreversible. All the justices have to do is invoke the Constitution in their edict and in the declarations of their power, and no lower power or deliberative body can touch it or challenge them.
In the system of checks and balances that our government is structured by, the president can check and balance Congress by the power of the veto. Congress can check and balance the president by its ability to override a presidential veto.
No similar override mechanism applies to the Supreme Court. For the Supremes, the sky is the limit.
Our political system is based on the concept of participatory democracy. The people elect their chosen representatives. If insular judges who are not elected can make and unmake laws at their whim and discretion, guided only by their own beliefs and preferences, we don’t have a participatory democracy as much as we have a judicial theocracy.
If a Constitutional Convention is called to amend the Constitution, the delegates might do well to consider an amendment that would make it easier for the people’s elected representatives to override an imperial court and more fully bring the court back under the umbrella of the check and balance that applies to the other branches of government.
If the courts are all powerful and cannot ever be reigned in, who or what protects us from the tyranny of the judicial minority?
Robert B. Beatty
Legal, safe, regulated
Nora Volkow’s warnings in the New England Journal of Medicine of the long- and short- term dangers of marijuana are lost on me, as long as we continue to use drugs that are equally dangerous in our lives every day. Consider a drug that leads to addiction, heart irregularities, impaired judgment, liver disease, depression and fetal damage — alcohol.
Consider a drug that leads to addiction, nervousness, both hyper- and hypoglycemia, and sleep disorders — caffeine.
Consider a drug that causes addiction, asthma, cancer, COPD, heart disease, stroke, and impaired judgment — tobacco.
Yes, marijuana needs to be regulated and taxed. No, we do not need to continue what happened during alcohol prohibition — the rise of crime and the proliferation of dangerous alcohol products.
Overuse of any substance, whether it be aspirin, sugar or marijuana, can result in dangerous side effects.
People will use marijuana, whether legal or illegal. Legal, safe, and regulated are the answers, not prison or prohibition.
Carl L. Zielonka
A pleasure to drive
I live just off Westshore Boulevard and drive it daily. I’d like to compliment Hillsborough County on this repaving project. The work has been conducted mostly in the evening, and my family (three drivers) has noticed very little impact to traffic.
Westshore Boulevard was in desperate need and now is a pleasure to drive.
Thanks to the county commissioners and to the paving company. Great job!
Demystifying legal system
Thank you, Trib Business section, for resurrecting LegalEase after more than a decade of dormancy.
I encourage my lawyer colleagues to contribute content relevant to consumers and business people who may be facing legal issues. Consider it a public service.
Points of law are often confusing to non-lawyers but often can be understood with a simple explanation by a knowledgeable attorney.
LegalEase thus helps demystify the legal system, thereby making it more accessible, a good thing.
Cathy Peek McEwen
Not big-league ball
I think the time has come for the Tribune to move the Rays’ broadcast schedule in “TV and Radio Today” (Sports) to the “Others” category.
I don’t know exactly what it is they’re playing these days, but I am pretty certain that it no longer qualifies as “Major League Baseball.”
John S.V. Weiss