“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Happens When We Break Our Own Rules

Monday's Wall Street Journal featured an editorial by Steve Malanga entitled How States Hide Their Budget Deficits. Consider this brief passage regarding New Jersey,

"Meanwhile, New Jersey compounded its woes with other ploys. In 2004, the state broke the cardinal rule of municipal budgeting when it borrowed nearly $2 billion to close a budget deficit, which is like borrowing on your credit card to pay off your mortgage. (The state supreme court ruled this move unconstitutional but allowed it to go forward anyway because it didn't want to "disrupt" government operations.)"

That last sentence seems key, does it not?

Here you have a state with a constitution, laws and a supreme court which is expected to rule on both, and if the state is violating the constitution under which its citizens expect the state government to operate.

But New Jersey's supreme court stood silently by, allowing unconstitutional behavior. Much like the case in which it allowed current Senator Frank Lautenberg to run as a Democrat after the filing deadline, when Bob "The Torch" Torricelli had to drop out due to ethics violations.

Why is anyone surprised that we have such dire financial situations in states, and at the federal level, when our own courts fail to apply the relevant constitution?

When a court notes that a state is violating the state's own constitution, but fails to stop it because it doesn't want to get in the way of "government operations," we have a major problem.

The constitution in question means nothing. Government officials have no limits to their exercise of power.

This is why the Tea Party movement has gained such momentum. Existing governmental entities are failing to do their jobs, allowing abuses of power.

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