Category Archives: Broadcast
The Constitution guarantees each and every state a “republican form of government.” So is Florida’s rather hectic and confused use of multiple methods of amending its State Constitution actually “Constitutional” in the sense of being done by a “republican form of government” as guaranteed in Article IV, Section 4?
Once upon a time, 1633, to be exact, King Charles issued a Royal Charter for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation. Oddly enough, by the time Rhode Island got around to ratifying the Constitution in May of 1790 (the final original State to do so), the charter was still in operation and was held to be in compliance with Article IV Section 4’s guarantee of “a republican form of government.”
By the time the 1840s rolled around, most of the people living in Rhode Island disagreed and decided to write their own State Constitution and elect their own Governor. This did not sit well with either the current government of the State nor with the President of the United States. So when the two sides tried to come to blows, it went about like you would expect it to have, since you’ve never heard about it or seen it in your high school history books.
But it did teach us quite a bit about what a “republican form of government” really is…
In the economic doldrums of the late 1970s, the State of Michigan hit on an idea to take over some land it liked and build a car plant which would create jobs and economic benefit. The people who owned the land weren’t all that thrilled about the idea, nevertheless, the state persisted. Eventually, the Michigan Supreme Court decided that the taking was a legitimate use of eminent domain for economic benefit. Thirty-seven years later, it didn’t turn out to be such a great idea.
The State of Indiana argued yesterday that seizing a person’s car for doing 5mph over the speed limit was not an “excessive fine.” Seriously. That’s not a joke. They really argued that. The Supreme Court didn’t think that it was funny.
The Congress shall have Power To …regulate Commerce…with the Indian Tribes…
ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 3
That’s how it always begins. Very small.
A man living in Oklahoma has a girlfriend who has an ex-boyfriend who gets into it with the man. In a gruesome crime, the ex-boyfriend is murdered, his genitals left on his chest on the side of the road. Not being a criminal mastermind, the man, Murphy, is caught. As there is little doubt and much evidence that he did it, he is tried and convicted of capital murder. The sentenced is death.
Not so fast…
The crime was committed by a member of the Creek Nation. The victim was also a Creek. And it appears that the crime was committed on Creek land. That being the case, the state of Oklahoma would have no jurisdiction, it would be a Federal case, requiring a Federal 9not State) prosecution. Because of the laws and agreements with the Tribes, such a crime cannot have a death penalty unless the tribe agrees to it, which they almost never do.
Not so fast… was it on Creek land? The Treaty of 1831 says that it is, but subsequent treaties (1966) make it less than clear. Did Congress intend to take the land where the crime occurred away? Did they actually do it? Did somebody make a big mistake and forget a sentence in a document more than a century ago?
And if it is Creek Land, what does that mean to the State of Oklahoma? What if the State of Oklahoma, as we’ve known and loved it since 1907, isn’t the state of Oklahoma? what if it’s only half the size it is today?
Absurd, you say? That’s not what the 10th Circuit Court says. And depending on how the Supreme Court rules, it might not be so crazy. By next June there might be a new old Territory and fifty percent less of the State of Oklahoma.
It’s Constitution Thursday on The Dave Bowman Show…