FL Lawmakers Challenge Judicial Branch’s Power

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In December of 2016, Florida State Representative Julio Gonzalez submitted a resolution to the local house of representatives, “urging Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution that allows Congress to deem a law that has been declared void by certain federal courts active and operational.” Florida state Senator Keith Perry filed an identical companion bill to the local senate. They urge the Florida legislatures to petition U.S. Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution that would empower Congress to overturn any U.S. Supreme Court or Appellate Court decision that voids a law or resolution.

If passed, the new law would require 60% of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as 60% of the U.S. Senate to vote for overturning a court’s decision within five years of its case1. For this to occur, both bodies of Florida’s bicameral legislature must first ratify Sen. Perry’s and Rep. Gonzalez’s resolutions and subsequently petition Congress; thereafter, Congress must pass a bill through the House and the Senate to make it law.

Both Sen. Perry and Rep. Gonzalez have been silent on the issue thus far, refusing to comment or answer questions concerning their filings. Neither of them cite any specific reasons as to why they believe the petition is warranted, but their bills broadly answer the question with radical indictments of the federal judiciary “excessively consolidat[ing] power in one branch of government, and, as George Washington observed, such encroachments eventually create ‘a real despotism.’”

They also cite Thomas Jefferson’s concerns about the fact that federal judiciary is comprised of judges who are not elected but, rather, are appointed, which Perry and Gonzalez equate with “usurpation.” The bills also claim that the Supreme Court possesses “unchecked authority on matters of the constitutionality of the United States’ laws such that its opinion on such matters has the same effect as amending the United States Constitution.”

The purpose of a jury is that, if a crime is committed, a group of objective, uninvolved peers of the defendant must reach a conclusion based on the arguments of the defense and prosecutor. The reason for this is that no one potentially involved, even remotely, in the crime can be trusted to make an objective ruling; likewise, if a bill is unconstitutional yet becomes law, the purpose of the federal judiciary’s autonomous, independent ruling according to the current structure of government is that partisan legislators cannot currently be trusted to also decide whether or not the law is constitutional since they themselves passed the law.

The bases for judicial interpretation are aspects of legal philosophy that judges hold and about which they debate ad nauseam. For example, originalism is a legal theory of judicial interpretation that Antonin Scalia publicly espoused, asserting that the text of the Constitution always be interpreted the same way it was originally intended when written. Structuralism, on the other hand, involves judges determining how a ruling fits into the grand scheme of the Constitution in its entirety.

Clearly, even judges do not agree on what the proper way to interpret the Constitution is. This is why not every appellate court judge did what Seattle Justice James Robart did, suspending President Trump’s temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. Though the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld Robart’s ruling, it is clear that judges do not agree on the constitutionality of the ban. A left-wing op-ed written by Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times strongly insinuates that Perry’s and Gonzalez’s resolutions are a reaction to the 9th Circuit’s challenge of President Trump’s travel ban, but no evidence has surfaced to corroborate such claims.

Neither Perry’s nor Gonzalez’s resolutions have made any progress in the Florida state House and Senate thus far.

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