U.S. Representative John Conyers has acted more forcefully, introducing three bills to call the Administration to task for its spying.
- H.Res.635 - A resolution that would create a select committee of Congress to
- H.Res.636 - A resolution that would censure President Bush for his actions.
- H.Res.637 - A resolution that would censure Vice President Cheney for his actions.
A full description of these resolutions can be found at John Nichols' Blog at The Nation "Raising the Issue of Impeachment."
Sadly, the prospects for these resolutions in the House are dismal. As long as it is their man who is violating the Bill of Rights and undermining the authority of Congress, many seem content to watch in silence, surrendering power and rights willingly as the Administration plays the Osama card over and over again.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
One would think that all the President's men (and women) had failed to read the Bill of Rights since it clearly prohibits the kinds of eavesdropping they have conducted:
- Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Above the Law
The defense for these violations is always terrorism. Even though Congress authorized quite liberal search activities with special court approvals, and that process has moved rapidly and well since its passage, the Bush administration chose to circumvent the courts and act on its own without heeding checks and balances.
An Educational Emperor
From the beginning, we have seen a pattern of over-reaching with this administration, an opportunistic approach that seizes upon 9/11 as a pretext to push policies across a broad front even when they have little to do with terrorism.
Not long ago we heard a Secretary of Education refer to the NEA as a "bunch of terrorists."
While the Constitution clearly leaves the states prime responsibility for educational policy and funding, this Administration and Congress have dictated educational policy in ways that violate the Tenth Amendment, telling states they must test annually and even directing which reading texts they might purchase.
- Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
As far back as 1995, some members of Congress argued that the U.S. Government had no authority to interfere with local and state educational decision-makjing:
- This principle, known as federalism, forms the core of the Constitution I took an oath to uphold. Some may be interested to learn that the United States Constitution does not delegate to Congress the power to legislate on every issue facing our nation. The powers of Congress are specifically listed in Article I, Section 8. There are only 18 powers, and 6 pertain to the ability to maintain a national defense. The other powers range from the power to coin money to the power to establish the federal court system.
By U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, June 1995
In my view, the Constitution does not grant to the federal government the power to dictate to parents, states, and/or local education authorities, public education policy. Indeed, we did not even have a United States Department of Education until 1978.
In my opinion, the Department of Education was established as an act of political cynicism, a simple power grab by the powers that be in Washington dressed to look like a commitment to the public education system. Given the current state of public education, I am sure that parents wish that those in Washington had been a little less committed.
Go to http://www.house.gov/hostettler/Issues/Hostettler-issues-1995-06-federalism-2.htm for the full text of his remarks.
The powers granted to Congress are clearly outlined in Section 8 of the Constitution available for review at the US Senate Web site: http://www.senate.gov/civics/constitution_item/constitution.htm
No matter how hard you may look, you will not find any authority listed to run schools, dictate tests or insist on particular reading programs.
Needed: Respect for the Constitution
Sadly, both parties in Congress are to blame for the NCLB disaster. They have teamed to exceed the powers granted by the Constitution. The law in itself is bad enough, but when the law is administered by a Department of Ed that takes a regal approach to school management, the damage is compounded. Despite occasional minor gestures to create the appearance of flexibility, the Secretary of Education has ruled with an iron fist. This was never the intention of the Founding Fathers.
Ironically, vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court have raised cries from the right complaining of justices who might use court decisions as a form of legislative action. They call for strict construction of the Constitution on social issues that concern them, but these same folks remain silent when a President exceeds his authority or a Department of Education dictates policies to schools that conflict with the Tenth Amendment.
It makes good sense to heed the Constitution's decision to leave education to the states. How many years of NCLB folly will it take before folks learn that the law is terribly flawed and damaging? This is a bad law, ill-considered and unworkable whether it be fully funded or disgracefully underfunded.