Letter to Congressman Sabo, 27 March, 2002

Dear Congressman Sabo,

Thank you for your response of 18 March, 2002 to my letter concerning the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill (H.R. 2356). As McCain-Feingold (S.27) has passed the Senate, and the bill was signed into law by President Bush today, it looks like this has become the law of the land, at least for the moment.

In your letter you said:

Some Americans have raised concerns that H.R. 2356 unnecessarily restricts the First Amendment rights of issue advocacy groups. I strongly support the freedom of speech, and agree that certain provisions of H.R. 2356 may not withstand a U.S. Supreme Court challenge. (1)

And when you were sworn into office on 14 February, 2001, you promised:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. (2)

What I don't understand is how you can reconcile voting for legislation which you admit may well be unconstitutional with your oath to support and defend the Constitution.

I imagine it's tempting to pass a bill and let the Supreme Court sort it out, but I expect more of you. By passing an unconstitutional bill, waiting for a citizen (or group of citizens) to challenge it, and letting the Supreme Court decide, you infringe on the rights of citizens affected by the law before it is overturned. You (at least temporarily) attack the Constitution. You also waste the time and energy of the citizens who challenge the law. About the only benefit I can see from passing an unconstitutional law is that you've enriched the lawyers involved in challenging and defending the law to the Supreme Court.

Is this added work for the legal profession the reason that almost 10% of the campaign contributions you have already received for the 2002 election cycle (3) have been from lawyers? While passing an unconstitutional law hurts your constituents, it will enrich at least some of those attorneys, and I can see how they might be grateful.

There is one final benefit I can see. You've caused me to get more interested in politics. You've got one constituent who's going to be keeping an even closer eye on you in the future.

Dave Polaschek


1: Letter from Martin Olav Sabo, to Dave Polaschek, dated 18 March 2002.
2: http://clerkweb.house.gov/mbrcmtee/members/oath.htm
3: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/indus.asp?CID=N00004489&cycle=2002

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:59.