Wake Up, Speaker Murphy!
This posting builds on a string of other postings by all of us here at Anchor Rising.
Ed Achorn of the Providence Journal is back with yet another editorial about how Rhode Island House Speaker William Murphy appears committed to thwarting the will of the people, as expressed in our approval on November 2 of the separation of powers constitutional amendment.
Mr. Achorn writes:
Mr. Murphy holds the most powerful political post in Rhode Island. He managed to cling to that power last week after a bitter challenge by Republicans and dissident Democrats.
No one knows what promises Mr. Murphy had to make to secure the 45 votes he obtained in that fight, to his unimpressive challenger’s 30. But, during the fight, he did something shocking, even by the standards of Rhode Island politics. He signaled his intention to essentially nullify a constitutional reform known as separation of powers, which had been duly passed on Nov. 2, after years of debate and struggle, by more than 78 percent of the state’s voters.
These voters trusted in the power of the ballot to redress their grievances. Mr. Murphy betrayed that trust. He announced that the Rhode Island Constitution — no matter what the voters say — still gives the General Assembly the power to operate state-sanctioned gambling, through control of the Lottery Commission, and exert other executive functions.
Such a contention seems, to me, to stretch law, common sense, and the English language into unrecognizable shapes. The voters, after all, officially amended the state constitution to read: “No senator or representative shall, during the time for which he or she was elected, be appointed to any state office, board, commission or other state or quasi-public entity exercising executive power under the laws of this state. . . .” That would seem to offer no wiggle room for legislators to run the executive functions of the Lottery Commission or other boards. (In no other state is there even one legislator allowed to run the lottery that way.)
Our Declaration of Independence clearly and eloquently states that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” We, the people of Rhode Island, gave our consent on November 2 to the separation of powers amendment. Any power that William Murphy has as House Speaker is also derived from our consent.
However, another posting contains a word of caution from Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute, who said:
In the end, however, no constitution can be self-enforcing. Government officials must respect their oaths to uphold the Constitution; and we the people must be vigilant in seeing that they do.
Speaker Murphy: We, the citizens of Rhode Island, have already spoken and we demand that you drop your proposed actions. Your actions violate the separation of powers amendment and they violate fundamental principles of American freedom dating back to our country’s founding.
Wake up, Speaker Murphy! The old days of corrupt Rhode Island politics are over. The old days of showing a callous disregard for the will of the people of Rhode Island are over. Show respect for your oath of office and for the rule of law.