February 04, 2010

What You Probably Don’t Know About Our “Other” Constitution

Most know that this nation is (ostensibly) governed using the Constitution of the United States of America. Many know that there was an earlier document in use for governance between the states after the Declaration of Independence but before the Constitution was ratified, these were called the Articles of Confederation. But there is another constitution few think about, and most are reluctant to bring up: the Constitution of the Confederacy.
A recent comment regarding the Articles of Confederation, where we believe the commenter actually was referring to the Constitution of The Confederate States of America led me to read the little read document. When it comes to the Confederacy most folks fall into two camps. The (seemingly) larger camp reviles everything they assume the Confederacy stood for. To them the issue that the Civil War was fought for was Slavery, and that was it, nothing more. So they would never, ever, think of actually reading the Constitution of those racist redneck neo Nazi hatemonger's.
The other group knows there was a little more to the story than the Official Narrative® would have us believe. Some of us may not be ashamed of the Stars and Bars, because we do not automatically associate Dixie with the KKK, lynch mobs and Raaaacissstsss. We realize there was way more to the story and that in many ways the Rebels might have had a few things right, even though they did have one thing horribly terribly wrong.
Now, Let Me Be Clear® Slavery was an abhorrent disgusting violation of basic human rights. I am against it, and would never be for it. Ample evidence suggests that the original founders were also against it, but realized it would take years to un-ring that bell, and so the 3/5ths compromise was made, not because black folks were 3/5ths of a person, but to limit the south’s representation (but that is in an older post). It is known as well that not all southern states, or southern families were slave owners, or even approved of the practice. What they did see was a runaway Federal Government out of tune with the realities of life where they lived. This story is beginning to sound familiar. So when they seceded they wrote a new constitution, extremely similar to the Union Constitution, with some very key differences. I will not go so far as to say “better” but I will say it is intriguing that they put into their document some of the things many many of us think are good ideas. Again, and it bears repeating, Slavery was not right, it was horrible, deplorable and wrong. I am not nor will I, defend that practice, but if you think of the Civil War as a war over ONLY Slavery you miss the big picture entirely.
To read a very detailed comparison between the USC and the CSC go here
Here are a few of the most noteworthy changes (other than the one we all know about)civmap
9) Congress shall appropriate no money from the Treasury except by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses, taken by yeas and nays, unless it be asked and estimated for by some one of the heads of departments and submitted to Congress by the President; or for the purpose of paying its own expenses and contingencies; or for the payment of claims against the Confederate States, the justice of which shall have been judicially declared by a tribunal for the investigation of claims against the Government, which it is hereby made the duty of Congress to establish.
The first of two new Confederate clauses that try to impose certain standards of fiscal responsibility on the legislative branch.
The CSA Congress can only appropriate cash:
  • in response to a specific request from the executive branch
  • to pay for its own expenses
  • to pay for the national debt and other financial "claims" against the national government
The document also demands that the Confederate Congress establish a tribunal to "investigate" the validity of such claims made against the CSA.
(10) All bills appropriating money shall specify in Federal currency the exact amount of each appropriation and the purposes for which it is made; and Congress shall grant no extra compensation to any public contractor, officer, agent, or servant, after such contract shall have been made or such service rendered.
The CSA Congress is forced to only issue money bills that cite an exact dollar amount, and cannot grant a penny more after such a bill is passed.
(20) Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.
The Confederates add this little clause at the end of Section 9. This is quite an interesting addition, as it demands that all laws only relate to "one subject." This would prevent what we see today, where endless riders attached to bills can allow Congress to pass all sorts of extraordinarily complicated laws that regulate about 50 different topics at once.
(1) The executive power shall be vested in a President of the Confederate States of America. He and the Vice President shall hold their offices for the term of six years; but the President shall not be re-eligible. The President and Vice President shall be elected as follows:
The Confederate President can only serve a single, six-year term, unlike the US President, who (at the time) could be re-elected forever.
Interestingly, the Confederate Vice President could be re-elected.
4) The President shall have power to fill all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session; but no person rejected by the Senate shall be reappointed to the same office during their ensuing recess.
The CSA adds an additional check to prevent the President from exploiting recess appointments. If someone is rejected by the Senate, the President cannot weasel around it by just making that person a recess appointment.
(2) [snip] …The President may approve any appropriation and disapprove any other appropriation in the same bill. In such case he shall, in signing the bill, designate the appropriations disapproved; and shall return a copy of such appropriations, with his objections, to the House in which the bill shall have originated; and the same proceedings shall then be had as in case of other bills disapproved by the President.
This is the longest clause in the constitution and the Confederates added quite a bit to the end.
The bulk of the clause explains how the Congress can override the President's veto. The Confederates alter this a bit, and give the CSA President the power to approve certain parts of a bill into law, and reject other parts. Today this power is known as a "line-item veto." Many US state governors have such a power, but the American President does not.
The General Lee I am not suggesting that ‘If the South Woulda Won We’d’ve Had it Made…’ I am just suggesting that when you read history you should read all of history and take all sides into account. The Reb’s had some very interesting and innovative ideas, some of which many of us wish we had today.

And now in shameless obedience to Rule #5… Happy Friday!
rebel_flag_bikini_bikini_joes-rebel-flag-bikini rebel-flag-bikini-1
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