Contract Law

When the several states joined forces to become the “United States”, they did it by signing a contract with one another; they’d cede out control of certain issues that the states couldn’t handle as efficiently and effectively as the states to a central, national government. The contract was called a Constitution,.

Under the terms of that contract government had certain enumerated powers; the states had some more; The People had the rest.

As part of that contract, that central government had checks and balances:

  • The power of the chief executive and their branch was limited; appropriations and foreign treaties could only be approved by Congress; a Supreme Court could constrain all three of their ambitions – or, put another way, hold them to the contract.
  • The lower chamber would be directly elected. The upper chamber would represent states, not a direct nose-count of the population.
  • The chief executive would be chosen by a system that would pare back a little of the power of the more populous areas. Furthermore, the entire system was predicated on the idea that the chief executive, while an important and powerful position, would not be a “winner-take-all” choice as far as governent power when: small states wouldn’t “lose’ because they had the Senate to temper the passions of the mob; larger population centers weren’t disenfranchised because the combination of the directly-elected House and usually-directly-elected President counterbalanced the, er, counterbalancing effect of the Senate and the electoral college. You weren’t just voting for a President; you were voting for a complete package at the Federal level.

That’s the system that made this country what it is. For worse or, mostly, better.

Lately, though – and it’s hardly the first time, even in my lifetime, although the dumb power of raw numbers seems to make it louder this time – there are those talking about “making the country more representative”; they propose:

  • Eliminating the Electoral College, electing the president by popular vote.
  • Making the Senate a popularly-elected body, or eliminating it altogether.
  • Adding term limits to the Supreme Court, or allowing Presidents greater leeway to change its composition.

These proposed changes to the contract accompany many other more or less drastic proposals to alter the fabric of this nation; various guttings of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments are all current events these days. And for many of those constitutional guarantees, the fact this nation’s contract enforces a sort of gridlock designed to constrain the passions of the dumb masses is the only thing standing in the way.

So let me make a proposal – and when I say “proposal”, I guess I’m shading more toward “manifesto”.

A Not At All Modest Proposal

Go ahead. Change the Electoral College, the Senate, the SCOTUS. Jam down anything you want, in fact.

But consider those changes an abrogation of the contract under which this nation was formed.

California, New York, New Engalnd, Illinois and the Mid-Atlantic states can form their own parliamentary democracy with popular president and enshrined powers of the majority. They can basically turn their nation into a glorified city government, like that of MInneapolis (or Chicago, Newark, Baltimore, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle or Saint Paul) with aircraft carriers, giving all power to the most populous areas, essentially making the less populous areas, the Inland Empires and Southern Illinois’ and upstate New Yorks taxed without representation – and with the contract now null and void, the rest of the nation can be free to choose something less stupid.

But you can not have one without the other. One party to a contract can not force a change in contract terms on the other parties without a negotiation – and that includes the freedom to walk away. Not legally. Not with any talk of forcing everyone to remain in a contract that’s been abrogated, rendered null and void.

I’m fine either way. But nowhere in between.

One or the other.

It’s worth having a knock-down, drag-out national debate over. Wars have been fought over much less. Let’s try not to do that.

4 thoughts on “Contract Law

  1. The Civil War did not revolve around constitutional contracts.
    The argument against succession was above the constitution.
    Don’t fall into the trap of believing a “contract” has a meaning above the willingness of both parties to abide by its terms.

  2. After the Articles of Confederacy failed, the states agreed to try an experiment. They would delegate to a separate, over-arching body, certain limited powers: coin one form of money valid in all states, run a post office delivering across state lines, fund the navy to defend all states. These were things that needed to be done for the good of all states, but no single state could do them alone. The powers were few and expressly limited in the organizational document, the Constitution. And the states that agreed to try the experiment were skeptical, several of them expressly reserving the right to withdraw from it.

    Saying the Civil War was not about contract rights is true in the sense that nobody made that a central point in the argument to succeed. But they didn’t need to make that point, it was well understood at the time. The argument was over the actions that caused the breach of contract which justified leaving the experiment.

    It’s a mistake to confuse morals for contracts, they are completely separate concepts. Slavery was morally repugnant before the Northern states joined union but the Northern states agreed to honor it. If the North was no longer willing to abide by the terms of their agreement, the proper course was a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery. If that failed, the Northern states and Southern states should have negotiated a dissolution of the union, allocated debt, divided up federal lands, and gone their own ways, same as the end of any other contractual arrangement.

  3. While the Democrats of today have abandoned the political slavery of the 19th century they have not abandoned the supporting political infrastructure built by the politics of Nullification and Concurrent Majority that John C Calhoun first championed in the 1840s. The theory of Nullification is alive and kicking in every Sanctuary City, State, and County. Nullification and Concurrent Majority created the political tensions necessary for the first CW. Then as now it becomes increasingly clear that if you can nullify Federal tariffs/immigration law there is objectively no limit on those federal policies that can be abrogated by willful majorities in selected localities, making this not a nation of laws but a nation of mobs.

  4. There’s no arguing reprobates want to change the terms of our Constitutional contract, but they’re neither abrogating nor amending it.

    Eliminating the Electoral College.
    The reprobates are applying the EC in a way that does nullify it, but it’s also a way that the constitution allows. States can cast their EC votes in any manner they wish. Leftist controlled states have decided to cast them as a combined mob.

    Making the Senate a popularly-elected body.
    Isn’t that how it’s done? The framers envisioned Seantors being chosen by the state legislatures, but that never happened. I have not heard any reprobates suggest getting rid of the Senate

    Adding term limits to the Supreme Court, or allowing Presidents greater leeway to change its composition.

    Presidents have all the leeway they need to change SCOTUS’s composition. And there is nothing forbidding reprobates from adding to the nine until they get the balance they want. I’ve heard several suggestions of term limits, but neither side trusts the other enough to agree to it.

    There is no doubt reprobates wish to rewind history, change the terms under which our Republic is formed. Unfortunately, the framers never envisioned 1/2 of the population actively working to destroy the country. They left plenty of wiggle room for the snakes to do their work.

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