Integrity Legal

2nd August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that personnel of the United States Justice Department have filed a case challenging the provisions of a recent State immigration law enacted by the sovereign State of Alabama. In order to provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the website AL.com:

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The U.S. Justice Department today filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s new immigration law, which is slated to go into effect next month. In its lawsuit, the Justice Department says Alabama’s law unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority over immigration. “To put it in terms we relate to here in Alabama, you can only have one quarterback in a football game. In immigration, the federal government is the quarterback,” said Joyce White Vance, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Justice Department lawyers write in the lawsuit that the department is filing the action “to declare invalid and preliminarily and permanently enjoin the enforcement of various provisions” of the state law, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham this afternoon. Provisions within the state’s immigration law “are preempted by federal law and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution…”

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon those relevant hyperlinks noted above in order to read this insightful article in detail.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noted that this blogger has rather strong feelings regarding inherent States’ Rights and the inherent prerogatives which are reserved to State sovereigns notwithstanding the enumerated powers of the federal government pursuant to the United States Constitution. That stated, American immigration is one of the relatively few fields in which Congress has virtually monopolistic power regarding the imposition of laws, rules, and regulations. This is due to the fact that immigration falls into the jurisdiction of Congressional and executive plenary power. Therefore, it is little wonder that this recent case was filed since the Alabama law would seem to be operating in violation of that aforementioned plenary power. How this case will ultimately be resolved remains to be seen, but clearly issues pertaining to US immigration can be dramatic in a political context.

Of further interest to those who find the information above to be noteworthy, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Congress seems to be attempting to create some sort of extra-Constitutional body for legislative purposes. To provide further elucidation regarding these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Huffington Post, HuffingtonPost.com

This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers. Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party. Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process…

This blogger asks that readers click on the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

This blogger would argue that this proposed so-called “Super Congress” is a prima facie violation of the United States Constitution since there is no explicit reference to such an institution within the text of the Constitution itself and because Congress cannot delegate their lawmaking function to this institution per the doctrine of nondelegation. As noted in the quotation above, under the proposed scheme “rank and file” Representatives and Senators would not be able to make amendments or changes to proposed legislation emanating from this questionably Constitutional body, but would be required to vote “yes” or “no” only. This blogger would not have a Constitutionality issue with the proposed scheme if it were proposed as an Amendment to the Constitution and not as a statute since, again, the Nondelegation precludes such a transfer of power and therefore any law passed pursuant to this scheme may not be in compliance with notions of due process of law in American jurisprudence since there is a specific Constitutional framework for enacting legislation which does not include a “Super Congress”. For those who wish to understand this issue through the prism of analogy there are certain parallels between the argument that this scheme violates the Nondelegation doctrine and the argument that the so-called federal “line item veto” violated the Presentment Clause of the American Constitution. The future circumstances of this scheme have yet to unfold, but clearly there are many legal aspects of this plan which could face challenge down the road.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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