Friday, May 13, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinking Congress!

Mark Twain, to whom all good quotes of uncertain provenance are attributed, is supposed to have said that "no man's life, liberty, or property is secure while the legislature is in session." On March 3, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 814 (see information on it here), which would direct the states to swiftly hold special elections in the event one-hundred or more members are dead or missing.

This bill, similar to one passed in the 108th Congress, is a product of fears following the September 11th attacks, Congress worried it would be put out of business as was hypothesized some years ago in one of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. Norman Ornstein, the public-policy guru who is a fixture on the television news, organized at the American Enterprise Institute the Continuity of Government Commission, which put out an informative report on the subject. Certainly, I feel that special elections take too long--look at the long delay in South Dakota last year following Bill Janklow's conviction. Yes, something needs to be done, but I'm of mixed feelings about Congress taking action like this rather than the states.


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