Wednesday 19 July 2006

Keeping moral convictions out of the US Constitution

The props are falling in the wind

This is a time when one could be tempted to feel sorry for Mr Bush, but then that would be utterly feeble-minded.

The architect in the person of Mr. Karl Rove would sure find something to assuage the pain and galvanise the troops for the November elections.

This empathetic irrational rush comes from ideas that got scuttled in the House and the Senate yesterday.

I had written about 6 weeks ago about the divisive and galvanising issues that the President has recently be using as a ploy to manipulate moral convictions into constitutional law.

The three issues are as I stated then

1. Outlaw all stem cell research (ambivalent support)

2. Constitutionally outlaw abortion (supported but can split the less fundamental conservatives)

3. Constitutionally ban gay marriage (widespread support)

The Legislature defies the Executive

Yesterday the Senate approved stem cell research although with 4 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. The President might well exercise the veto and if reason does prevail in the Senate, they might just muster more than the 4 votes needed to close this issue once and for all.

In the same day, the House of Representatives rejected the constitutional amendment which would have banned gay marriage, also with a majority 47 votes short of two-thirds – however, this debate would for a while no more see congressional rancour.

Interestingly, when the Senate voted on this issue, just over 5 weeks ago, it was a knife-edge vote of 49-48 against constitutional interference.

The constitution is not the Bible

This is not to ignore the fact that there is still widespread support for propping up heterosexual unions and discouraging homosexual unions – the issue at hand is, that desire does not belong in a constitution, especially not in one that a democracy depends on.

The moment moral and ethical convictions become constitution staple, we are not on some smooth sailing venture to the growth of civil moral rectitude, and rather it invites a downward spiral that catches the Puritans where it hurts most – embarrassment.

We have seen it times before in the “Back to Basics” program of the Tories and other anti-sleaze ideas that make some politicos assume a more saintly image than others only to be revealed and merely mortal and grossly fallible.

Abortion is settled in law

The final contentious issue is abortion, it appears the Supreme Court would not be obliging on this matter regardless of the conservative slant they have and 5 out of the judges publicly back Roe v. Wade.

The seminal Jane Roe v. Henry Wade of 1973 more or less sees a constitutional right related to the choice of abortion if requested subject to gestation terms and medical supervision amongst other sex education issues.

Beyond all this, Mr Bush can still make the wolf howls and Catherine wheels that would gather his congregations, but this fight would be in the consciences of the people not in the tussle between the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive – that is democracy.

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