Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dan Quayle: Passing Healthcare Bill With Simple Majority Is Unconstitutional

Former Vice President Dan Quayle has projected himself in contemporary political debates by offering some interesting constitutional interpretation. During an appearance on Fox News, Quayle blasted the idea of Democrats using the reconciliation process to pass healthcare reform. This filibuster-free route would allow for passage of the bill in the Senate with a simple majority -- or 51 votes. Quayle says that doing so would violate the Constitution:
They're gonna go to budget reconciliation, which I believe would set a very bad precedent, because essentially -- if they could do it, and I don't know if they can do it, but if they could do it -- what you have done, effectively, is to take away the filibuster in the United States Senate. . . . So, therefore, you have 51 votes in the House and 51 votes in the Senate. That is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind. That is not the constitutional process (emphasis added).
Article I of the Constitution establishes and delegates power to Congress. Article I is silent regarding how many votes a particular bill must receive before it is sent to the President and with respect to the procedural rules for each chamber. Instead, the Constitution generally allows each chamber to determine its own rules (with some very specific exceptions).

Nevertheless, Article I clearly describes the actions of Congress that require a supermajority. For example, overriding a veto requires a 2/3 vote of each house. Also, a decision to convict the President during the impeachment process requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate. The Constitution, however, does not create the filibuster, even though it has a long history. The filibuster is a Senate rule -- not a constitutional mandate.

Finally, it is unclear where Quayle gets the "51 votes in the House" figure. A simple majority of the House consists of at least 218 votes.


RealityZone said...

Dan Quayle was, and is null and void. He should go and hang out with Palin. POTATO ! !

TRUTH 101 said...

Quayle has been a consistent intellectual lightweight his entire life. There is no surprise he would not have any Constitutional knowledge.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Alas, Quayle is consistent.

Aspasia said...

Damn, Reality Zone beat me to the first potato reference! Ah well, I'll still add mine: we shouldn't take advice from a man who can't spell potato.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Aspasia and RZ: That's unassailable logic!

LETICIA said...

Are you sure that quote was really from Dan Quayle? Some of those words had more than one syllable.

A Conservative Teacher said...

Although Quayle is not totally correct, a through reading of our Founding Fathers would confirm that his overall point is correct, that the Senate demands a higher level of support than a simple majority, and that in the Senate, there is supposed to be larger support. The goal of the Senate was to act as a sensible block on rash legislation (such as most of what this Democratic Congress is churning out).

Aren't you a 'constitutional law' professor? Haven't you read our Founding Fathers writings and philosophy behind them? Or are you more like our Dear Leader as a 'professor'?

You all take pot-shots at Quayle and call him 'intellectual' lightweights, but then worship Obama and call him a genius- it reflects on your intelligence level, you know.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Conservative Teacher: Your reading of the Constitution is more liberal than Justice Warren. But to the point, the Constitution does not mandate the filibuster and nothing in the history suggests that it is a mandate. The Senate could revise its rules to get rid of the filibuster without violating the Constitution. This does not change some of structural elements that make the Senate unique (2 senators per state, regardless of population), but it does make Quayle ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

LETICIA said...

A Conservative Teacher: Nobody called him an "intellectual lightweights" since that is a pluralization, and as far as I know, Dan Quayle is one person. You must be new to this blog, because I have yet to see anyone here worshiping Obama. Hopefully, you brought some evidence to back up your assertions.

As to your argument that the Founding Fathers wanted the Senate to have "more support" behind legislation, this is not reflected in the Constitution, with the exceptions noted by Mr. Hutchinson.

You take pot shots at us and call us "Obama worshipers" but then defend a buffoon who misinterprets The Constitution: It reflects poorly on your intelligence level, you know.

Aspasia said...

I would also like A Conservative Teacher to show exactly where on this blog anyone called Obama a "genius". Funny, if you are a teacher you know to never make a claim that can't be backed up with evidence. I just reamed out one of my own students on this very topic (unverified claims, ad hominem attacks), so now I'm wondering if you were her teacher. Or do you misinterpret the definition of teacher as horribly as Quayle misinterprets the Constitution?

But no, this is the pattern of reaction A Conservative Teacher made: criticism of Quayle=criticism of the GOP=Democrat=OBAMA WORSHIPPERS!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Leticia and Aspasia: Thanks for your great comments! Clearly this person is new, because the last person I would "worship" is a politician -- Obama or anyone else. Defending Dan Quayle is very risky business because he is often so wrong.

Goateed said...

Isn't it the greatest of ironies that Dan Quayle, as Vice President, was the President of the Senate, but he seems to have a horrible misunderstanding of the Constitution, that pesky little document setting all the rules for our government?

In a way, I miss having Quayle around as a punching bag; he's always good for a dose of buffoonery.

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