The Court is the King’s bench: Limiting the US Supreme Court by re-aligning institutions …

“The province of the court is, solely, to decide on the rights of individuals, not to inquire how the executive, or executive officers, perform duties in which they have a discretion.  Questions, in their nature political, or which are, by the constitution and laws, submitted to the executive, can never be made in this court.” Marbury v Madison

I came across the above quote while further reflecting on the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  During this reflection, I reminded myself that court opinions are pieces of strategic communications first and foremost.  Court or case law reconciles philosophy, government narrative, politics, and policy in order to clarify what the law is.

During days of monarchy, it was clearer as to what the law was.  It was the king’s edict.  The court was the king’s bench.  From the bench, the king announced the law, clarifying it and applying it when settling controversies. His designees, scribes, and later “lawyers” would be tasked with spreading his rulings through the land wherever controversies arose.

I am not calling for a return to those simpler times, but I believe that using that simple framework from antiquity could be used for reforming the court.

When the opinion in Dobbs was issued, the arguments about reforming the court came to surface again.  The most poignant argument from the Left has been that the number of justices on the court needs to be expanded so that the diversity of current society and its values are better represented.  By extension, the Left appears to be saying that a court of say 15 justices, more racially and gender-identity diverse, would come to rulings more in line with the sentiments of society.

The data provides the Left some support in that regard.  As I determined in a previous post, approximately 60% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal, yet the majority in Dobbs noted in its analysis that historically, most states have treated abortion as a crime and given that the right to an abortion is not expressed in the Constitution, history, along with text and precedence, should be a factor when determining if the right exists at all.

But are courts representatives of the people?  Are they a representative body and should they be?  The majority in Dobbs seems to drive home the point that the court is not a representative body.  It is a creature of a republic but not a democratic body.  The court reiterated that the public should have these debates and have the debates decided legislatively via the state representatives they, the people, elected. 

I could see rebuttal from the Left where Marbury is cited as license for the high court to decide on the abortion rights of the individual woman.  The court, at least a court preferring a strict reading of the Constitution, will say, “Sure, we agree that we decide on individual rights, but only on those rights the people and their government explicitly say exists and abortion is not one of them.”

The court did a full-court libertarian press with this opinion, taking itself out of the decision as to what a woman can do with her body.  That is the irony; that pro-choice advocates would want the government involved in the decision at all. I don’t believe these advocates asked themselves if the benefit of having a uniform abortion law that saves them on the costs of forum shopping is worth the cost of their individual liberties and the slippery slope that raises these costs.

But back to the issue of reforming the court.  Reformation should start with ensuring that the court is politically aligned with the administration.  Each member should be nominated or re-nominated by the elected president.  The justices’ terms would be attached to the term in office of the President. It would be understood that decisions on individual rights, the interpretation of the Constitution, the clarification of the law would be done within the philosophy, narrative, politics, and polices of the Administration. This approach raises the importance of voting, especially since a president relies on a supportive Senate majority to get her nominees through confirmation.

Is Congressional legislative intent left out in the cold? No, because the policies of an administration are based on the president’s duty to execute the law, so any interpretation of the law by the court takes Congress’ intent into account.

A real government speaks with one voice.  A re-alignment ensures clarity and reduces uncertainty.

The electorate has been passing the buck for too long.  If Americans endorse the notion of government, it has to endorse an electoral process that aligns all spinners of political narrative into one box.  Society is too split, its government’s policies too disjointed for this reason.     

Alton Drew

30 June 2022

Disclaimer: This blog post should not be construed as legal advice or an agreement to provide legal or political analysis.  To set up a consultation, contact us at altondrew@altondrew.com.

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Reinterpreting the U.S. Constitution: Congress is not the government …

A clearer line of separation between the government of the United States of America and American society is needed and a starting point is a reinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution.  The “democratization” of the American republic and the transition from an agrarian, self-employed society to an industrialized, corporate-capitalist model has incentivized politicians and policy makers to offer to the electorate policy packages marketed as prescriptions for the market failure that ensues when the factors of production are concentrated in fewer hands and the electorate owns and controls less real wealth. 

Public policy packages are expensive as attested to the growth in the U.S. government’s debt load and the number of government agencies that came along with that growth.  Congress is a core architect of packages designed to win and secure electoral support and votes.  Congress has leveraged the public’s perception that Congress is a necessary and integral component of governance when in reality, even as holder of the purse strings, Congress’ governance role is limited and contrived. 

Congress has created a committee structure through which it exercises oversight over the executive and administrative branches; an authority not supported by the written Constitution. Congress has gone beyond its primary responsibility for authorizing the funding of the government into managing American society via a quid-pro-quo with the electorate where Congress passes spending packages that create new programs managed by special interests in return for the vote. This patronage system has Congress and the public believing, under the guise of democracy, that Congress actually governs.

American society having, at least in theory, selected this form of public administration should not be afraid to put Congress back in check. This should begin with changing the narrative around Congress.  Congress is not a part of the government.  It is not a branch of the government.  Congress does not administer a portfolio of public resources.  Congress is at best the body that contains the individual representatives to the government where such representatives represent the primary funders of the government i.e., taxpayers and bondholders.

Democracy and ego have created a body of individuals whose primary mission is to expand their importance and unfortunately their need to expand their self-importance drips into the lives of the individuals in society.

Unfortunately, the electorate itself does not have the discipline to send to Congress representatives willing to limit their duties to adjusting the purse strings or voicing electorate concerns regarding public administration of public resources.  The electorate’s calls from time to time for the Congress to “do something” or “get work done” demonstrates that the electorate is stuck in the narrative that Congress is a governing body. 

More work has to be done to clear that narrative from the subconscious.

Alton Drew

23 April 2022    

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The Federal Reserve, U.S. Congress is quiet this week …

All is quiet at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System this week, at least when it comes to communications from the Board’s governors. None of the governors have speeches scheduled this week.

Congress continues its holiday with no hearings scheduled for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs until 5 January 2022. The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services has not yet set a calendar for January 2022.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a quiet calendar this week with no events impacting interest rates or foreign exchange scheduled this week. The holidays continue.

Alton Drew

27,12,2021

Interbank Market News Scan: Powell to deliver testimony before Congress on monetary policy …

14 July 2021

Federal Reserve chairman today speaks on state of monetary policy.

Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell today will share with Congress his outlook on monetary policy as the United States economy continues to pull itself out of the economic doldrums imposed on it by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Mr Powell will share his observation that as the American economy continues to move toward levels of pre-pandemic economic performance, it will climb through transitory periods of inflation.  Increases in consumer prices may primarily be due to restraints on supply due in part to stressed supply chains.

Mr Powell will testify that the Federal Reserve is still focused on its long-term inflation goal of two percent.  Mr Powell will also note that asset valuations are increasing which in turn is feeding risk appetite amongst investors.  Mr Powell will also advise Congress that the Federal Reserve will continue to maintain its current policy of purchasing Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities currently amounting to $120 billion per month until labor market and other economic factors such as stable prices improve.

Mr Powell’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress is submitted pursuant to Section 2B of the Federal Reserve Act. The monetary policy report did not go into any detail regarding international trade or exchange rates.

For a consultation on any regulatory or legislative discussions or announcements during today’s hearing, please reach out to us at altondrew@altondrew.com to reserve an appointment.

Exchange rates of interest as of 12:15 pm AST

Currency pairExchange rate
AUD/USD*0.7478
EUR/USD*1.1819
GBP/USD*1.3879
USD/CAD*1.2454
USD/CHF*0.9163
USD/JPY*110.1200
USD/XCD+2.7000
USD/NGN+410.3770
USD/MXN*19.9560
Sources: *Reuters +OANDA

Rates reported by the Federal Reserve (Release Date 13 July 2021)

Effective Fed Funds Rate: 0.10%

Discount Window:  0.25%

Prime Bank Rate: 3.25%

3-month Treasury bill: 0.05%

6-month Treasury bill: 0.06%

1-year Treasury bill: 0.07%

As of 5:51 pm AST, foreign exchange rates as Congress ponders additional relief …

Pairs Federal Reserve as of 23 December 2020 OANDA as of 23 December 2020 OANDA as of 28 December 2020 
GBP/USD 1.3510 1.3449 1.35603 
USD/CAD 1.2841 1.2872 1.28619 
USD/CNH 6.5400 6.5323 6.51546 
USD/DKK 6.0989 6.1031 6.10186 
EUR/USD 1.2194 1.2185 1.21836 
USD/INR 73.7700 73.7316 73.4122 
USD/MXN 20.0800 20.0878 19.8603 
USD/JPY 103.5200 103.50 103.63 
USD/NOK 8.6307 8.6886 8.62746 
USD/SEK 8.2841 8.3036 8.24517 
USD/CHF .8882 .8886 .89037 

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, OANDA

Legal/Political Events Impacting Foreign Exchange Rates

U.S. House considers increasing dollar amount of pandemic relief payments to taxpayers

The U.S. House of Representatives is, at the time of this writing, considering a vote to increase the amount of pandemic relief to individual taxpayers from the current $600 to $2,000. President Trump and House Democrats are aligned on this issue, but the increase is expected to face considerable push back in the Republican controlled U.S. Senate. Mr Trump argued yesterday that the pandemic relief passed by Congress over the weekend contained unnecessary spending and argued that these funds be reallocated to American taxpayers.

Source: U.S. House of Representatives

As of 1:12 pm AST, foreign exchange rates in reaction to Trump signing pandemic relief bill …

Pairs Federal Reserve as of 18 December 2020 OANDA as of 18 December 2020 OANDA as of 28 December 2020 
GBP/USD 1.3497 1.3520 1.35603 
USD/CAD 1.2776 1.2760 1.28619 
USD/CNH 6.5395 6.5197 6.51546 
USD/DKK 6.0798 6.0731 6.10186 
EUR/USD 1.2236 1.2248 1.21836 
USD/INR 73.5300 73.4139 73.4122 
USD/MXN 19.9813 19.8978 19.8603 
USD/JPY 103.3500 103.35 103.63 
USD/NOK 8.5959 8.5878 8.62746 
USD/SEK 8.2786 8.2747 8.24517 
USD/CHF .8850 .8844 .89037 

Legal/Political Event Impacting Foreign Exchange Rates

Trump signs pandemic relief package

Yesterday, President Donald J Trump reluctantly signed into law a $900 billion pandemic relief package with a core provision of a $600 payment to eligible taxpayers. Mr Trump advocated for increasing the payout from $600 to $2,000 for eligible taxpayer. In his statement Mr Trump promised to continue his fight for the increase as the Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote today on increasing the amount. Resistance to an increase is expected in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Foreign exchange rates; Pandemic stimulus bill passes Congress

Pairs Federal Reserve as of 18 December 2020 OANDA as of 21 December 2020 
GBP/USD 1.3497 1.33499 
USD/CAD 1.2776 1.28559 
USD/CNH 6.5395 6.53668 
USD/DKK 6.0798 6.09401 
EUR/USD 1.2236 1.22056 
USD/INR 73.5300 73.7333 
USD/MXN 19.9813 20.1582 
USD/JPY 103.3500 103.4600 
USD/NOK 8.5959 8.6862 
USD/SEK 8.2786 8.2959 
USD/CHF .8850 .8865 
Sources: Federal Reserve and OANDA

Legal/Political news impacting foreign exchange

Congress passes $900 billion relief package

Reuters reporting that the United States Senate has passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief package which includes a one-time $600 payment to eligible American taxpayers. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the legislation later today.