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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Refuting O'Grady on Honduras

This article pretty thoroughly demolishes O'Grady's case that the Honduran coup was "constitutional", says I.

10 comments:

  1. Why does it matter whether or not a person has followed rules written by people who are now dead and who wrote those rules to give a sheen of respectability to their plundering?

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  2. Letting one through, bestquest, in the hopes that you might see why so many of yours don't make it through:

    "Why does it matter whether or not a person has followed rules..."

    Well, we had a discussion of this here between people who were interested in it. If you're not, then ignore the conversation!

    But you might find, if you were sued by the hypothetical "Committee to Stop Peeps from Dissin' the Constitution", that when a judge threw out the suit because you are within your first amendment rights, you would decide that it does matter, at least a bit.

    "written by people who are now dead"

    I guess you know a priori that all constitutions were written long ago.

    Except the Honduran constitution wasn't.

    "who wrote those rules to give a sheen of respectability to their plundering?"

    Are you claiming that, say, Madison's work on the US Constitution was done "to give a sheen of respectability to their plundering"?

    That's truly idiotic.

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  3. Oh, that should be "his" plundering at the end there.

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  4. I can't say I found Mr. Thoresen's article as persuasive as Mr. Callahan did. The article says, for example, that if there had been a legal case against President Zelaya, then the Congress would have impeached him. My understanding is that the Honduran Constitution does not provide for presidential impeachment. In any event, it's hard to see how Mr. Thoresen can make this argument while failing even to mention the fact that the Congress voted unanimously to remove Zelaya on June 25.

    Mr. Thoresen also says that the proposed referendum didn't violate the constitution, because it would replace the existing constitution, not modify it. Article 373, however, provides that changes to the constitution must originate with the Congress, and Article 375 says that any attempt to modify or replace the existing constitution that doesn't comply with Article 373 is invalid. Again, Mr. Thoresen doesn't mention that the proposed referendum was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, Attorney General, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, nor does he mention that Zelaya had tried to sneak the ballots into the country and later formed a mob forcibly seized the ballots.

    Mr. Thoresen's story is that Zelaya was just minding his own business when the Congress, Attorney General, Supreme Court, Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and Armed Forces all decided to gang up on him. That doesn't seem plausible.

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  5. Interesting, Gene, but this still leaves questions. While it seems that there is a good case that Zelaya's actions did not violate the Constitution, the Constitution prescribes methods for amendment/reform and does not contemplate a "National Constituent Assembly" for a re-write, so his actions were certainly an attempted run-around it.

    Certainly the behavior of the post-ouster junta itself - suspension of fundamental rights, arrest, murders - appears to violate the Constitution, and leaves my sympathies with those calling the ouster and junta illegal.

    Thanks for the occasion for me to let me fingers do some walking and clear up in my mind what this is about:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Honduras
    http://www.webcitation.org/5k00qyp6O
    http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/2406-honduran-resistance-challenges-regime
    http://www.hondurasweekly.com/international/2541-rodas-reiterates-call-for-national-constituent-assembly-in-honduras
    http://www.narconews.com/Issue65/article4110.html

    BTW, have you been following any of the discussion that we amend our OWN Constitution?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230437030457515223171http://virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/del-lemunyon-calls-for-a-constitutional-convention-to-balance-fed-budget/0551888.html
    http://www.nolanchart.com/authors/articles/article.php?ArticleID=7568
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/04/would_a_constitutional_convent.html
    http://www.foavc.org/

    And I've done a bit of blogging here: http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/search.aspx?q=constitution
    http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2010/02/07/corpspeak-on-the-dangers-of-corporations-and-of-the-supreme-court-quot-jefferson-was-right-quot.aspx

    What do you think?

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  6. "Mr. Thoresen also says that the proposed referendum didn't violate the constitution, because it would replace the existing constitution, not modify it. "

    No, it was NOT a referendum, and it would NOT have replaced anything. It was essentially an opinion poll.

    "Article 373, however, provides that changes to the constitution must originate with the Congress, and Article 375 says that any attempt to modify or replace the existing constitution that doesn't comply with Article 373 is invalid."

    Obviously, any clause that says that no future generation may EVER have any constitution other than the one the founders decided upon is nonsense, and "unconstitutional" in the sense that it violates the spirit of constitutional government, and represents, in fact, tyranny of the founding generation over succeeding ones.

    "Mr. Thoresen doesn't mention that the proposed referendum was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, Attorney General, and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal..."

    So what? Given that an opinion poll on a new constitution is clearly NOT illegal, it is their actions that were unconstitutional, and Zelaya was right to resist them.

    Honduras is ruled by a military-plutocrat oligarchy. Zelaya tried to ask the people if they really wanted that to continue. The oligarchy freaked out and staged a coup. It really doesn't matter how many dozens of times they asserted that even checking with the people to see if they like being ruled by oligarchs is illegal.

    I have the feeling you would declare that anti-Nazi Germans were "anti-democratic," since Hitler entered office by electoral means... as long as the Wall Street Journal op-ed page instructed you to say that.

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  7. "...you might find, if you were sued by the hypothetical "Committee to Stop Peeps from Dissin' the Constitution", that when a judge threw out the suit because you are within your first amendment rights, you would decide that it does matter..."

    Wouldn't you rather that the judge rule you have an inviolable Common Law right to Free Speech? Common Law is eternal and trumps both statutory and constitutional law in courts that actually dispense justice.

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  8. So, a common law principle like "the first-born male inherits the entire estate of his father" is an eternal truth?

    I see.

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  9. Obviously, any clause that says that no future generation may EVER have any constitution other than the one the founders decided upon is nonsense, and "unconstitutional" in the sense that it violates the spirit of constitutional government, and represents, in fact, tyranny of the founding generation over succeeding ones.

    If you have to argue that the Honduran constitution is itself "unconstitutional" then I think you've pretty much conceded the point.

    If it is tyrannical for one group of people (e.g. the founding generation) to bind other group of people (e.g. succeeding generations) then it seems to me that constitutions are of their nature tyrannical. Why is it okay for one group of people (e.g. those who approve a new constitution) to bind another group (e.g. those who do not) if they live at the same time but tyrannical if they live at different times?

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  10. "If you have to argue that the Honduran constitution is itself "unconstitutional" then I think you've pretty much conceded the point."

    Very humorous. You're really not aware that written constitutions can violate the spirit of constitutionalism? For instance, a constitution that said, "I am dictator for life, and can do whatever the f*&* I want, is unconstitutional no matter who approved it.

    "If it is tyrannical for one group of people (e.g. the founding generation) to bind other group of people (e.g. succeeding generations) then it seems to me that constitutions are of their nature tyrannical."

    There is an interesting theoretical question -- brought up long ago by Jefferson, and more recently by Elster -- that asks why the founding generation's document should have any authority for succeeding generations at all. But the situation is clearly far more acute when a constitution says "No one can ever change this" -- note the US Constitution has no such portions -- even the procedure for amendment is open to amendment.

    Do you really think it is the least bit sensible for the Honduran founders to think Hondurans in one billion AD will still be bound not to change their president's term limits?

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