Monday, June 15, 2009

More on the stupidity of HR 1109

In my recent article entitled “It takes two to Cha-cha: The stupidity of HR 1109,” I must say that I ventured into the realm of the unusual. And why is that? For one, I am elated because I got favorable reviews from conscientious citizens who are too passionate in expressing their disgust against the notorious HR 1109. However, like any other masterpiece, we cannot but avoid dissenting views from the cynics and also from legal minded critics. For this, I am constrained to respond by expounding a little more on my arguments and theories surrounding the constitutional implications of HR 1109. To be clear, the arguments are “anticipatory” in nature because a case has yet to be filed in the Supreme Court to clarify the various interpretations on the pertinent constitutional provisions on amendments and revision. To be sure this is not a futile academic exercise. In fact, by discussing the constitutional aspects of HR 1109, we will in effect expose the stupidity of those Congressmen who voted to adopt this worthless piece of trash.

To begin, I must admit that there is no such thing as a watertight interpretation to the 1987 Constitution, the provision on the amendatory process in particular. More often than not, owing to the fact that most of its provisions are ambiguous, we are inclined to poke holes in every provision of the constitution to suit our current disposition. This is what the proponents have in mind when they ventured to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution via HR 1109 calling for a unicameral constituent assembly.

Again, in my recent article I echoed initially the position taken by the esteemed Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas of the Ateneo Law School. And to make it more staid and understandable, I expounded and stretched the arguments a little more.

In that article, I took the position that the “three-fourths” vote requirement under Article XVII section 1 pertains to the proposal for amendments or revision made by Congress when acting as a constituent assembly. The Constitution but sets an explicit limitation when it comes to the manner of approving the proposal on constitutional amendments, this is where the three-fourths vote comes into play. This is contrary to the view that the three-fourths vote refers to the manner of convening the constituent assembly. Unlike the present Constitution, a different rule is required under the 1935 Constitution before Congress can act as a constituent assembly. The 1935 Constitution says,”The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that purpose.” Under said provision, a congressional resolution passed by both houses calling for a joint session is necessary before Congress can act as a constituent assembly. But this was before of course. As presently worded, the 1987 Constitution is explicit when it enunciates that, “Any amendment to or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon the vote of three-fourths of all its members…” Believe it or not, the Congress as it now sits is already a constituent assembly.

On personal note, my brother (who by the way is a lawyer and a staunch advocate of the Constitution) corrected me when I said that by virtue of Article XVII Congress automatically converts itself into a constitutional assembly. To him, the House and the Senate is a perpetual constitutional assembly. I shall grant him that because actually there is no conflict with regard to our respective positions. I totally agree with him but I used the automatic conversion theory merely to distinguish constituent functions under Article XVII (Amendments and Revision) from legislative functions under Article VI (The Legislative Department). For non lawyers, these dual functions of Congress can be confusing because by way of a general rule Congress is tasked mainly to enact laws, thus the need for a distinction.

Nonetheless, let us be clear on this matter. It is my position that until and unless Congress decides to act pursuant to Article XVII, the functions of a constituent assembly remains completely dormant. Article XVII is the constitutional provision which activates the functions and powers attached to a constituent assembly. And so, when the House unilaterally adopted HR 1109 seeking to convene Congress as a constituent assembly, that to me is a useless and futile exercise. (At least in the constitutional sense) What may be unconstitutional is the fact that said resolution allows both Houses to vote jointly in the manner of proposing amendments. Here, we will now be talking about the function of Congress when acting as a constituent assembly. As Fr. Bernas opined, “The question that must be asked is not how Congress becomes a constituent assembly, but rather how Congress must function when acting as a constituent assembly.” In other words, when Congress functions as a constituent assembly, must they convene in joint or separate session? In addition, must they vote separately or jointly?

As I have said in my previous article, it would be more consistent with the bicameral structure of Congress that both Houses must convene in a joint session but voting separately. Thus; “In view of all this, I therefore subscribe to the view of Fr. Bernas that to be consistent with the bicameral structure of Congress, the “three-fourths vote of all its members” must be interpreted to mean three-fourths of all members of each house voting separately…As to the question whether the House and the Senate should convene jointly or in separate sessions, I think it is best that both Houses must cross swords with each other face to face. Take note that what is at stake here is not ordinary legislation but amendments to the Constitution. Although the Constitution does not command a joint session in the manner of proposing amendments, neither is there a prohibition for them to do otherwise. In any case Congress certainly has the discretionary power to set its own internal rules as an independent branch of the government”

Admittedly, the separate voting formula is in line with the position taken by Fr. Bernas which to me is the more practical and logical solution to the present controversy.

I am not unaware of the generally valid argument that if we follow the position of Fr. Bernas in the procedure of proposing amendments (separate session and voting separately), in effect we will be reducing the amendatory process into an ordinary legislation. Obviously, the amendatory process is far more delicate and momentous endeavor because we are dealing here with the very source of governmental authority, the Constitution. Logically we can never equate the value of the Constitution with an ordinary legislation. For one, unlike ordinary legislation which requires the only the approval of the President, amendments to the Constitution requires the participation of the electorate for ratification in a plebiscite. Again, the question ultimately boils down to the purposes for having a bicameral legislative body in the 1987 Constitution. Among the traditional arguments for bicameralism is the fact that it allows for a more cautious or careful study of legislation. Thus, as I said before, “two heads are better than one.” Indeed bicameralism means two houses, the House and the Senate, acting independently and occasionally checking each other. Theoretically, the purpose behind all of this is for them to craft quality legislation.

By espousing a joint session but voting separately in the amendatory process, the purpose is ultimately the same, the quality of the proposed amendments to the Constitution. If it works with ordinary legislation, what could be the possible reason for it not to apply to the amendatory process? To my mind there is none. As I said before, a proposal partakes to the nature of a “recommendation.” It is the sovereign people who will have their last say on whether to approve or reject the proposed amendments. Moreover, if we put a premium to ordinary legislation by having separate session and separate voting, the more reason it should apply to proposed amendments because of its significant impact in the lives of our people and to the stability of the nation as a whole.

As I mentioned in my recent article, the theory behind HR 1109 is a result of a distorted interpretation on the amendatory process as envisioned in the 1987 Constitution. I was kind enough to categorize it as an “outrageous” interpretation. On second thought however, I will now call it as an “out of this world” constitutional construction both in essence and in substance. If these recalcitrant Congressmen of ours refuse to heed to the clamor of the street parliament, it is best to arm the public with adequate knowledge so that they may have a solid fulcrum to express their opposition. I just wish that these issues will be settled once and for all by the Supreme Court and let the record reflect for posterity how stupid HR 1109 is. Nuff said for now.

22 comments:

baycas2 said...

The following is culled from the comments section of the blog post “Western-style Democracy:”

A. ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS

(1) Sec. 19, Art.VII--"He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress."

(2) Par (1), Sec. 1, Art. XVII—"Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members."

(3) Par. 4, Sec. 28, Art. VI. “4. No law granting any tax exemption shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.”

(4) Sec. 3, Art. XVII. “The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.”

B. BOTH HOUSES OF THE CONGRESS VOTING SEPARATELY

(1) Par 1, Sec. 23, Art. VI--"The Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the sole power to declare the existence of a state of war."

(2) Sec. 10, Art. VII--"If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last written declaration, or, if not in session, within twelve days after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds vote of both Houses, voting separately, that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall act as President."

(3) Par. 5, Sec. 4, Art. VII. “The person having the highest number of votes shall be proclaimed elected, but in case two or more shall have an equal and highest number of votes, one of them shall forthwith be chosen by the vote of a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately.”

(4) Sec. 9, Art. VII. “Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President during the term for which he was elected, the President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately.”

(5) Par. 4, Sec. 11, Art. VII. “If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last written declaration, or, if not in session, within twelve days after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds vote of both Houses, voting separately, that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice-President shall act as President; otherwise, the President shall continue exercising the powers and duties of his office.”

C. THE CONGRESS VOTING JOINTLY

(1) Sec. 18, Art. VII--"The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President."

baycas2 said...

Given…

a. The Bicameral Legislature – the Operating System (not customizable as enshrined in Article VI of the Constitution).

b. The Congress = Senate + HOR (each House doing business separately).

c. Voting separately – the default operation of a bicameral Congress (unless provided otherwise in the Constitution).

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Cast personalities and the present situation aside…and then consider the wordings as you go back to the enumerated provisions above…

In Summary A:

All the Members of the Congress” was NOT taken in its literal meaning because the Congress means the bicameral legislature of the Senate and the HOR…each chamber doing its own business separately…THUS, voting separately.

If the Congress took the use of those words to mean a bicameral Congress in concurring Grants of Amnesty (Item No. 1; e.g., Proclamation 1377) and in Tax Exemption (Item No. 3; e.g., Republic Act 9504), what prevents them to do the same in Proposing Constitutional Amendment/s or Revision/s (Item No. 2) and in calling for a Constitutional Convention (Item No. 4)? [Please note that Items 2 and 4 are NOT YET tried and tested provisions.]

Precedence is the key, I believe. This will guide lawmakers in the exact interpretation of the phraseology of the Constitution.

In Summary B:

Why indicate “voting separately” in the provisions cited?

The use of the words “both Houses” has a tendency to add up the number of the Members of the Houses of Congress so the words “voting separately” is specified.

Remember also that on two occasions in the summary the Congress is in joint session: in Declaring the Existence of a State of War (Item No. 1) and in Canvassing the Votes for President and Vice-President (item No. 3). Does that imply also that in occasions (2), (4), and (5) both Houses are in joint session? I cannot give an educated guess right now.

Both Houses” is NOT equivalent to “all the Members of the Congress” because in the former you CAN total the number of members of each House while in the latter you CANNOT. The latter does not pertain to the plain meaning of the word “all” but is superseded by the use of “the Congress.”

“The Congress” is bicameral in nature and the members of each House are immiscible or cannot be added up.

In Summary C:

As I said, the Congress normally votes separately. “Voting jointly” has to be specified because the Congress will deviate from its normal procedure.

This C is almost identical to A because “all the Members of the Congress” was used…and NOT “both Houses.” This time, “voting jointly” was added obviously to veer away from the usual Congress’ path, viz., the default operation of voting separately.

The provision cited is the ONLY instance that “voting jointly” was used in the entire 1987 Constitution!

baycas2 said...

My comment from A Call for Sobriety:

Now, I would pose this question:

If in
Summary A and in Summary C (provisions enumerated several comments above) the use of the phrase “all the Members of Congress” are identical, how come “voting jointly” was added in C?

Notice the hierarchy of
Summary A to Summary C?

A, being the norm, precedes C, which is a deviation to the norm.

Here’s a test — Invert
deviation C to become the norm:

Thus, all the Members of the Congress vote jointly.

How come in concurring with Amnesty Grants and in passing Tax Exemption…the Congress votes separately?


-----
I also invite you to read This Animal Called Con-Ass.

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

good analogy. I hope you could simplify your arguments to make it more understandable for everyone.

baycas2 said...

What is not clear, if I may ask?

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Everything is clear to me in fact I find your analogy well grounded. But you see, if we want to educate the people as to the pros and cons of ConAss, better simplify your arguments for non lawyers...descend to the levef of a layman to a certain extent...but I will find time to respond your to your arguments by monday.

Anonymous said...

I am elated that my esteemed brethren had already seen the light. Clearly, the present Congress "as is" is already a constituent assembly. More power bro! No to Con-Ass!

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Thank you counsel...yes NO TO CONASS!

baycas2 said...

I am not a lawyer. I simply searched the 1987 Constitution for key words/phrases and I summarized (with help from a guy named domingoarong) the instances where they appeared in the Constitution.

The key words/phrases will help in understanding the meaning of the provisions, specifically, when the Congress (or each House) votes separately or jointly.

The summaries are in my first comment above.

With English Grammar and Composition and with a bit of Logic, I came up with the explanations written in my second comment.

baycas2 said...

The following is an attempt to simplify things but the reader has to refer every now and then to the Summaries A, B, and C given above.

-----

Article VI of the 1987 Constitution gives us:
- The Congress has two Houses, namely, the Senate and the House of Representatives (HOR).
- The two Houses always work separately and thus, vote separately.

The key words/phrases that appear in the enumerated provisions are:
A. All the Members of the Congress,
B. Both Houses of the Congress, voting separately, and
C. All the Members of the Congress, voting jointly.

A appears in four (4) provisions,
B appears in five (5) provisions, and
C appears in one (1) provision.

Let’s consider A

All the Members of the Congress” means all the Members of EACH of the two Houses. This is because “the Congress” is divided into two Houses: the Senate and the HOR. Each House, with its own total Members, works separately.

Hence, all the Members of the Senate AND all the Members of the HOR (collectively, the Congress) vote separately.

Moreover, in the four provisions enumerated in A, two provisions are already utilized:

(1) In Concurring Amnesty Grants (e.g., Proclamation 1377), and
(3) In Passing Tax Exemption (e.g., RA 9504).

In both provisions, where the key words/phrases “all the Members of the Congress” appear, the Congress votes separately.

The use of the words/phrases “all the Members of the Congress,” having been tried and tested already, will mean, voting separately.

Voting separately, as therefore implied, should also apply when deliberating on the other two provisions that were never before utilized, namely:

(2) In Proposing Constitutional Amendment/s or Revision/s, and
(4) In Calling for a Constitutional Convention.

Let’s consider B

The use of “both Houses of the Congress” instead of “all the Members of the Congress” may be confusing. “Both Houses of the Congress” means the Senate plus the HOR while “all the Members of the Congress,” as already pointed out, means all the Members of EACH of the two Houses. The former may mean the total number of the Members of the Senate and the HOR.

But both Houses of the Congress work separately. So, to conform to this requirement, the words “voting separately” are specified.

In effect, “both Houses of the Congress, voting separately” was used.

Let’s consider C

All the Members of the Congress” is used in a similar manner to A. But to distinguish C from A, the words “voting jointly” is added.

It’s self-explanatory that “voting separately,” usually happening in A, is no longer to occur in C.

Clearly, voting jointly happens only ONCE as the words “voting jointly” appear only once in the entire 1987 Constitution!

baycas2 said...

To cut the long story short, however, the following is the simplest explanation. (The reader still needs to go back to the Summaries A and C.)

-----

Article VI of the 1987 Constitution gives us:
- The Congress has two Houses, namely, the Senate and the House of Representatives (HOR).
- The two Houses always work separately and thus, vote separately.

Then consider the key words/phrases that appear in the enumerated provisions:
A. All the Members of the Congress
C. All the Members of the Congress, voting jointly

A impliesvoting separately” on account of Article VI of the Constitution whereas C indicates, “voting jointly.”

As same as the number of times it appears in the entire Constitution, voting jointly by the Congress happens only ONCE.

Indeed, only in revoking the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus when voting jointly happens!

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

yes i know you are not a lawyer.. (same goes for me) you are a logician I suppose...but very good analysis...but there are rules under statutory construction which you may find useful in construing provisions of the law...

Thank you baycas2 for the effort. I will be considering your arguments and I hope the Supreme Court will eventually rule on this issue...that is if there is an actual controversy or conflict of rights which is a vital requisite for the Court to exercise its power of judicial review...

baycas2 said...

You’re welcome.

Certainly there are Rules of Interpretation. What I hope to achieve is to compare possibly dubious words with other words and phrases in the same instrument* (i.e., the 1987 Constitution).

The 2 keys “All the Members of the Congress” and “All the Members of the Congress, voting jointly” clinched my understanding of when the Congress vote separately or jointly. Needless to say that in the former key the Congress votes separately…for why would the words “voting jointly” must be added to the latter key?

As to having joint session or not in proposing amendment/s or revision/s, the most important thing is to fulfill the requirement of a bicameral legislature first (e.g., coming up with concurrent resolutions in order to come to an agreement, akin to the annual concurrent resolution of each House just to hear the president’s SONA) before anything else.

Who knows, the Senate will be so kind enough to resolve to a “joint session, joint voting” scenario (aside from revoking the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus).

Of course, presently, committing to such a scenario will not happen for it would be tantamount to a suicide when a unicameral legislature is decided by the 3/4s Majority Members of the HOR.

I am one with Fr. Bernas’ hope “that the boy Santino will touch the hearts of the members of the House and convince them to leave constitutional revision to a future Constitutional Convention. May Bukas Pa!

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*One of Mr. Justice Blackstone’s teachings

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Yes i completely argree with you. Thank you again for taking time to share your views...

baycas2 said...

I stand corrected:

"BOTH HOUSES OF THE CONGRESS VOTING SEPARATELY" only appears four (4) times in the 1987 Constitution.

In Summary B, Item No. 2 should be omitted. I apologize if I created confusion.

Atty. said...

Hi, Chris. It's good to hear from you again. I was overwhelmed by your discourses concerning HR 1109. You really sound more lawyerly than most lawyers I know, myself included.

My take on this is to let the Supreme Court make the interpretation at the proper time so that the issue can be put to rest once and for all. And it is my view that since we are a little bit more learned in the law, we have to be as dispassionate as possible when discussing the issues. I certainly would not describe HR 1109 stupid. I'm not faulting you though for feeling that way because of perceptions that some people are trying to put one over us. I also agree with you that the people at large must be informed of the issues so they can, on their own, make informed decisions concerning the issue at hand. I think I read an article by Justice Vicente Mendoza in which he said that the provision of Article XVII section 1 which states “Any amendment to or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon the vote of three-fourths of all its members" was inadvertently unedited after the vote was made by members of the Con Con of 1986 in favor of a bicameral legislature. If the proper editing was made, we won't be having this discussion. All of us can analyze this provision to high heavens and it still would be an academic exercise until the Supreme Court has made its ruling on the matter. I think that is precisely one of the intentions of the lower house when they came up with that resolution. Let it be challenged in Court so it can be settled once and for all. As to my personal view on the issue, it does seem to me that the intent is for members of both houses to vote separately after holding joint sessions to discuss the proposed ammendment. Why? The draft of the Constitution was initially designed for a unicameral legislature. After the voting resulted in favor of a bicameral legislature, the framers had to edit the text to make the provisions consistent with a bicameral system. Unfortunately, Art XVII was indavertently left out in the editing. That's why we have this particular ambiguity in the aforementioned provision.

Lastly, your statement, "I have always maintained that if we venture to change our Constitution it has to be done under a less politicized environment" may be far fetched. It is my view that any change that we make in our Constitution would almost always provoke passion amongst, not only our politicians, but most everyone else and this ultimately will result in an environment that is highly politicized. Those of us who have had the benefit of a good legal education just need to make our arguments for or against the proposed amendments or revisions in as sober and dispassionate a manner as we can so we can lucidly explain to the people in plain everyday language our views on the issues. In the final analysis, they are the ones who will decide on the matter. The more emotions we attach to the discussion, the less reasoned their view on the issues may take. We don't want their emotions clouding their better judgment. The clearer they understand the issues, the better decisions they will make.

Best regards to you. I'm hoping that soon I will see the word "Atty." before your name. You certainly will make a fine addition to the legal profession. I knew I was right when I described you in class as a "distinguished constitutionalist."

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

Thank you Atty.Chito for always believing in me.

I shall deal with your salient observations in seriatim.

"As to my personal view on the issue, it does seem to me that the intent is for members of both houses to vote separately after holding joint sessions to discuss the proposed ammendment. Why? The draft of the Constitution was initially designed for a unicameral legislature"

I think the inetention to go for a unicameral legislature is really of no moment. This is a non-issue here unless you want to rely heavily on the intent of the framers. This is not the rule under statutory or constitutional construction we all know that. Moreover, when the people ratified the 1987 document, is it also safe to say that they also approved the deliberations of the 1986 Con con? (Let alone their mistakes i.e. the oversight which resulted to Art. XVII sec 1) I think not. To be sure there are various ways on how to construe the constitution. One of which is to rely on the text itself by harmonizing the provisions. Thus, " To support this analogy, a perusal of the 1987 Constitution provides for the instances when the two houses must convene together in joint session but vote separately. Thus; (1) When Congress declares the existence of war, (2) When it confirms the president’s nomination of a member of the Senate or of the House to be Vice President in the event of a vacancy in that office, and (3) the canvassing of votes for president and vice-president. Note that in these three instances, like proposing amendments or revision under Article XVII, Congress is performing a non-legislative function (It takes two to Cha cha article)" There you have it. It is well settled that that in constitutional construction the primary source from which to ascertain constitutional intent or purpose is the language of the provisions itself.Obviously,the intent of the framers can only be used as the last resort to ascertain the meaning of the constitution. Now you may argue that I myself relied on the intent of the framers when I took pains in exploring the essentials of bicameralism. I did this mainly to support my premise that constituent function has been given to bicameral body. Thus there was a need to apply a little bit of analogy and logic to arrive into such conclusion-joint and separate voting.

"we have to be as dispassionate as possible when discussing the issues. I certainly would not describe HR 1109 stupid"

The word "stupidity" must be taken into its proper context. My article is somewhat a constitutional discussion on HR 1109, if there is such a word as legal or constitutional stupidity I would use it with insatiable gusto. But, there is none and so I have to settle for that. Moreso, tinkering with the fundamental law, our supreme law of the land for heaven's sake, I was kind enough to term it as mere stupidity. As student of law, It is my bounden duty to expose the "stupidity" sorrounding the notorious HR 1109. I tried my best to simplify my arguments, I hope I did my part as a citizen of this country.

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

"Lastly, your statement, "I have always maintained that if we venture to change our Constitution it has to be done under a less politicized environment" may be far fetched."

Again the proper context defense. In my article Charter change Revisited, I ventured to discuss on the circumstances during the 1971 Con Con and the history of the 1987 Constitution. I will try to look into my archives so you can read it. And one more thing, Im not sure if you are really serious when you said, "...I think that is precisely one of the intentions of the lower house when they came up with that resolution" Again assuming that is one of the intentions of the proponents of HR 1109, the same may be construed as a deliberate act of tinkering with the Constitution. Imagine, our present political and economic crises, and all they think was to experiment with Art.XVII sec 1? To me is in line with typical Filipino attitude, "baka kc makalusot!"

Anyway I'm really glad that you have shared your views on this Atty.Chito. thank you so much for taking time to read my discourses.

baycas2 said...

I always believe there is no ambiguity…

Voting separately or jointly?
The INDETERMINACY (or Textual Ambiguity)
Was already made a fallacy.

Note in Tax Exemption and in Amnesty
The Congress votes separately.

What prevents one from ably
Appreciate similarly
In Con-Con and in Con-Assembly?

-----

Oftentimes I hear and read Fr. Bernas refer to Statutory Construction. Well, I haven’t heard or read him mention Sir William Blackstone or even Joseph Story as regards the Rules of Interpretation.

There really is a way to interpret the provisions. I invite you to DJB’s post “Amongst the Legal Eagles on Constituent Assembly.” You may also be able to listen to the eminent Fr. Bernas there.

Thank you.

baycas2 said...

Fr. Bernas was quoted:

On May 27, 2009: “What is not prohibited (by the Constitution) is allowed.

And exactly a month earlier he wrote: “What is not prohibited by the Constitution, either explicitly or implicitly, is left to the discretion of Congress.

I think these statements further discombobulate the voting jointly or separately.

Chris,

Let me just propose:

What the Constitution has put asunder,
Let no man join together;

And, what the Constitution has joined together once,
Let no man increase it for the nonce.

Christopher Diaz Bonoan said...

amen to that!