Constitutional Amendment Threatens Separation of Powers
To the Editor:
Two of the most important and fundamental principles embodied in both our state and federal constitutions are at stake in the constitutional amendment appearing on the November 2 ballot. In a power-grab being orchestrated by the legislature, the time-tested doctrines of "Separation of Powers" and "Checks and Balances" are being challenged.
Under the first of these principles, we have three separate but co-equal branches of government that function independently and are not allowed to usurp powers reserved to the others. These branches are the executive, legislative, and judiciary. Each is an essential, complementary, and hence indispensable part of the whole government.
Under the second principle, these three coequal branches keep each other in check. This is our most fundamental protection against the kind of concentrated power that leads inevitably to tyranny. For example, the executive veto can be used to curb legislative excesses, the legislature can de-fund executive actions that exceed its proper authority, and the judiciary can strike down unconstitutional laws. The judiciary itself is held in check by the funding and impeachment powers of the legislature, the appointing powers of the executive, and the people's power to amend the constitution.
In the proposed constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by the legislature, the judiciary would lose its essential independence. If passed, all aspects of judicial administration would be usurped by the legislature. This constitutes interference with the internal workings of the courts. The result would be an imbalance of power and a politicization of the one branch that is meant to be free of transient political impulses.
The intent of the legislature in pushing for this amendment is to gain an improper measure of power over our court system and undermine its integrity. The legislature's ultimate goal is to have the last say on whether our laws are constitutional.
Unless you prefer tyranny over the "checks and balances" afforded by a "separation of powers," please vote NO on this abominable constitutional amendment.
Robert D. King