Rump session, because legally, the constituent assembly (con-ass) should be convened in joint assembly (Senate and Lower House), and voting separately because of the bicameral nature of the legislature. Joint assembly, because it is deliberative and requires a sense that the other half (the Senate) is moving in the same direction.
Administration congressmen should go ahead and convene their half-of-a- constituent-assembly. They should calendar it. Today. Or a day after the State of the Nation. Sign payrolls of the staff for the half-a-constituent assembly. Sign DTR’s (daily time records). Sign vouchers and checks and disbursement forms to pay for the supplies, xerox, food, electricity, maintenance, supplies, etc. Sign contracts for extra and extension of utility and security services Sign contracts and memos. Spend the people’s money. They will incur criminal liability; this enterprise presumes 2010 will never come or that, the next President had entered a modus vivendi not to allow any criminal prosecution of any of the incumbents.
Congress has eleven “non-legislative” powers, as follows (here goes my Justice V.V. Mendoza course outline):
1)to act as Board of Canvassers; 2)call for special elections in case of vacancy, President and VP; 3)Decide on disability of the President when Cabinet disputes capability; 4)Impeachment; 5)Declare a state of war and delegate emergency powers;
6)act on declaration of martial law, suspension of writ; 7)concur in amnesties; 8)concur in treaties; 9)participate in appointment process thru Commission on Appointment; 10)review agreements of government with foreign corporations over utilization of natural resources (President has to report , 30 days);
and…. 11) Constituent power, or the power to propose amendments to the Constitution by a vote of three-fourths of all members of Congress.
The three-fourths (separately, Lower House and Upper House) of the members should be present and voting on the floor when the amendment or revision is up for approval (mere signatures not allowed).
Can the congressmen argue: “ Well, if you’re correct, this is just our half of it. It’s not entirely illegal, it’s half of the process, it’s just pending deliberation and approval by the Upper House….so, we’ll do our half of it first.”
But precisely. It requires a sense that the Senate is moving in the same direction in order not to spend taxpayers’ money on an enterprise that would be void; the Senate already approved a resolution that it will not convene itself into a counterpart con-ass. At least half a dozen laws would have to be violated by members of the Lower House just juggling items and juggling funds paying for salaries and looking for money for a plebiscite.
The action in the Supreme Court is premature (also, the resolutory part of H.R. 1109 merely quotes the provision of the Constitution, “upon a vote of three-fourths of all its (Congress’) members”; you cannot litigate just on the Whereas clauses; the Supreme Court also does not entertain petitions to ask for its opinion (in effect, for declaratory relief, or a request to interpret provisions; disguised as a petition for certiorari and prohibition). The time to file the action is when an amendment is presented before the members of the Lower House and they actually assemble and sit in their rump session and moneys start getting disbursed and they start approving amendments by their half-selves (without the Senate); hell, i want to see the amendments, bring it; bring the prime-minister-amendments.
The widespread indignation however is not premature, if only for the insult being heaped on all of us.
Go ahead. Convene your rump session.