The perceived positions of the Senate and the Supreme Court in U.S. constitutional life seems to me to have suffered a reversal in roles.
The political packing of the U.S. Supreme Court by the Trump Administration, and all the legal shenanigans that went on after Trump lost the last election, all point to the Supreme Court being the final arbitrator of everything that happens in the country.
That is indisputably clear when the matter under consideration concerns the interpretation of existing law and the Constitution. However, I feel that the public impression has slowly moved to a position where the Supreme Court also defines the future of the country. To some extent that is true, when they interpret the existing laws but they do not strictly define the future in a more general sense.
The Constitutional division of a House and a Senate was set up to provide almost continuous “new blood” into the Congressional structure, through the two-year term of the House of Representatives. That process was tempered by a considered, long-term, view of the country’s future through the six-year term of the Senate. The combination of the House and the Senate was designed to determine the country’s future path.
In other words, the House, and particularly the Senate, should look forward, and the Supreme Court should look back. The Senate determines what will be and the Supreme Court determines what was and what is.
I feel that the Senate, by its recent divisive behavior, petty bickering and an apparent inability to make a decision, has abrogated that constitutional role, and public opinion has turned to the Supreme Court to take up the banner of the future.
Almost no-one, in the present climate, would consider Ted Cruz, or Josh Hawley, elder statesmen, with the future of the country as their predominant concern. Yet, that description has defined the role of a senator since the times of the Roman Senate over 2,000 years ago. Not that Roman senators were any more pious than their U.S. counterparts, but they didn’t inappropriately abrogate their responsibilities.
The current U.S. Senate needs a total philosophical shakeup if they are to perform their constitutional function. One expects a few lunatics in the House of Representatives. That is the essence of its role. One does not expect, or need, similar antics in the upper chamber. It is degenerative, embarrassing, and dangerous.
So, how do we realign the current Congressional circus with its constitutional obligations?
A start might be to include required ethics and community responsibility courses at all levels in schools and colleges. That would provide a base.
Second, and I wrote about this last week, a school for legislators, which emphasizes not only what they should know about the legislative process but, also, what their positions require in terms of ethics, perspective, responsibility, commitment to the country, truth and trust. I wonder how many of our current representatives would get an “A” in those courses?
Third, I think there should be minimum age requirements for Congress. Maybe 35 for the House and 50 for the Senate.
The Senate must re-establish its role as the “Father of the Nation”. That title does not belong to some temporary despot who happens to be elected president. The U.S. was created to get rid of a despot, the mad king of England. Do we still hanker after such a “Father of the Country”?
The Supreme Court has an extremely important role as arbiter of the existing law, but it is not the “Father of the Country”, and nor should it be considered as such.
One of the few good things to come out of the Trump years is that they have highlighted what happens when the U.S. Senate abrogates its responsibility to the country.
Time to step up, senators.