Published On: March 4th, 2024

Miss Constitution has noticed that confusing words, sentences, paragraphs, and columns seem to be multiplying, leaving the average American anxious about what to believe and who to trust.  She is sympathetic.  Many go to sources for short snippets thinking they are getting accurate information when they are getting just enough information for the conclusion to be misleading.

An example – the word “bipartisan” has been used lately regarding legislation devised in the Senate regarding border security and foreign aid.  It was “sold” as bipartisan because a Republican and a Democrat sponsored the Bill.  The word “bipartisan” is commonly thought to mean compromise between political parties. 100% of all Democrats voting the same way with a few Republicans thrown in is not bipartisanship.  Bipartisanship is sufficient members of one Party supporting the legislative position of the other Party.  So, to be considered bipartisan, some Democrats would have voted against the so-called Border Security Bill and some Republicans would have voted for it.

An ancillary to confusion regarding the definition of important words is the misleading labeling of legislation. The proposed Border Security Bill would not have secured the border.  Anti-inflation legislation has caused, not stopped, inflation.  The American Rescue Plan has rescued nothing.  Miss Constitution would suggest the voting public disregard titles attached to legislation and know the contents instead. To know the contents of legislation, Bills must be understandable and the public must be fully informed partly through hearings and debate, allowing them to discover hidden provisions and possible unintended negative consequences. This would be true for both Democrat and Republican legislation.

Confusion is lessened if we remember our 7th grade civics class regarding how a Bill becomes a federal Law:

A Bill is written by Congressional staff and lobbyists (salespeople), sponsored by either a Senator or Congressman or more than one, approved by House or Senate leadership, and proposed in either the House or the Senate, unless it is a Bill to raise revenue that must originate in the House.

The Bill is then assigned to an appropriate subject-matter Committee for further examination and public hearings.  After the public has had a chance to review the legislation and hear debate on the Bill, amendments might be introduced.  The Committee then votes the Bill out of committee, with or without amendments, for a full vote, scheduled by leadership.

The Bill, passed by a majority or super-majority (if required), is then sent to the opposite chamber (House or Senate) for the same process.

Why this elaborate process?  The Founders created this complex and transparent process to reflect the fact that we are a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy.  The public elects representatives to stand in for them. To avoid inevitable corruption where taxpayer money is spent, the public must be allowed to hear debate on federal legislation, to be informed of every aspect of the proposed legislation, to know who would profit by the passage of the legislation, to know what “poison pills” are embedded in the legislation, and to be clear what the provisions of the legislation really mean to taxpayers.

After additional hearings in Committee in the opposite chamber and any amendments, if the Bill is changed but passes that chamber, a reconciliation between the House and Senate produces the final Bill for a final vote. The legislation then goes to the President for signature or veto.  If vetoed, 2/3 of both the House and Senate can override the veto and the Bill becomes law.

For this process to work as the Founders intended, Bills must be short in length, involve one primary subject, and be available to study without hurry.  Live public hearings must be available and any conflicts of interest exposed.  In other words, ‘regular order” must be followed.  Regular order does not prevent all corruption, but lack of regular order guarantees it.  Regular order includes a free and fair press, with all points of view available to the public.  The 1st Amendment’s Free Speech Clause to the United States Constitution precludes a government actor from calling any point of view on public policy “misinformation” or “disinformation.”  We learned this the hard way with the COVID pandemic and the resultant unnecessary deaths of many Americans.

The Founders had it right.  However, with many American political leaders unknowing or unwilling to follow the US Constitution and regular order, three I-words – Invasion, Insurrection, and Impeachment need to be explained.

“Invasion” has traditionally been thought to be a hostile entrance by force and implies military action.  Many have argued that mass migration is not an “invasion.”  Miss Constitution, however, would define it as the illegal encroachment of a sovereign border.  Using this definition, the United States government must prevent this encroachment – Article IV, section 4 – or let each state prevent it – Article I, section 10.  It is not the alien who is illegal, it is the act of crossing a sovereign border without permission or vetting that is illegal.  International interests in eliminating nation-states does not take precedence over the United States Constitution unless by vote of the whole American people to dissolve their nation.

“Insurrection” is a revolt against political authority.  Amendment XIV, section 3 defines it also as a rebellion against one’s oath to support the United States Constitution and referred to persons who supported the armed revolt against the United States during the Civil War.  An insurrection is not a riot or a violent protest against perceived political injustice.  The riot of January 6 was completely preventable and occurred through the negligence of those who had a duty to protect both the Capitol and elected representatives within the Capitol.

“Impeachment” is a Constitutionally mandated political process to hold those who serve the nation accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors while in office.  The House of Representatives impeaches (accuses) and the Senate tries the case.  What constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor is up to the House.  Removal from office and public shame are the punishments.  Impeachment is not a legal process.

Miss Constitution understands that few adult Americans have the time or inclination to sift through the myriad of ways those in power attempt to mislead, misdirect, or misinform We the People.  She would say that the “I” qualities most helpful to the average citizen in protecting our Constitutional Republic are Inquisitiveness and Integrity.  The basically good American, wanting to know why certain things are happening, who is responsible for those things, and what can be done about them is the measure of being inquisitive. Making sure those responsible are held accountable is the measure of having integrity.

In all aspects of life, the “I’s” have it!

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Miss C is taking questions you have about the US Constitution. Simply submit your questions and she’ll reply to you with answers. Great questions may be featured in her blog as well as added to an FAQ page. 

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    About the Author: Miss C

    M.E. Boyd, "Miss Constitution" is an attorney, author, and instructor in Business, Educational, and Constitutional Law. She has appeared on television and radio and speaks publicly on American history, the founding documents, and current political issues. Her mission is to help citizens understand the Founding philosophies behind the system so that we can-together-help preserve the blessings of liberty and prosperity. Read more about Miss C