In the home stretch to the end of the 2011 session, Utah’s legislatures are bound and determined to go out with a bang this year. Not to mention a big “fuck you” to the federal government.
HB76 sponsored by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, passed the UT House today and will head to the Senate. HB76 creates a Federalism Subcommittee in the Constitutional Defense Council. The new Subcommittee’s job is to identify any instances where the federal government oversteps its bounds in the state of Utah and lead efforts to tell the feds to take a hike when they do.
This type of bill really isn’t surprising in the current political climate. Utah does not enjoy an open primary; caucuses determine who will be on the ballot for each party. But, really, the only party that matters is the one that starts with “R.” The folks who become delegates and rule the caucuses tend to be the most extreme members of the party. So, the Republican caucus is dominated by extreme conservatives. It’s also a haven for the Tea Party. These are the folks who enjoy the privilege of ignoring the will of the majority in the party and ensuring only the most extreme candidates make it onto the ballot for validation (not election because the process of voting in this state is basically a rubber stamp of the delegates’ will). It’s no wonder the elected officials with “R” after their names are busy sponsoring and passing anti-fed bills. They have to please the extremists in the party or their political futures could be at risk.
The irony of this bill is blatant. The legislators are clamoring for less government while passing bills creating more government. But, the real gem in all the hoopla over this bill is a statement by Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo. In response to criticism that the bill stipulates the Subcommittee only consider the original wording of the Constitution (not any subsequent judicial rulings and interpretations) Herrod said, “If we have a ‘living document’ view of the Constitution we really don’t have a Constitution [because its meaning may change often].” Apparently, Herrod doesn’t understand that the document does change (but “often” would be a stretch). The founders designed the Constitution to change by creating a process for amending the document. They understood that it would need to adapt as the country grew and situations changed. Herrod would apparently have us throw that part of the Constitution out the window.
I hope any non-Whites and women are listening to Chris Herrod when he opens his mouth. According to his statement, he’d like to see them relegated to second class (or worse) as the original Constitution prescribed. Any non-White or non-males would be hard pressed to justify their typically blind vote for the “R” on the ballot the next time it’s next to Chris Herrod’s name. Oh…wait a minute. He’s from Provo. Non-issue.