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Bonaire Talk: Local Items: Archives: Archives 2001- 2004: Archives - 2001-03-08 to 2002-10-17: The Royal Family
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 6:36 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I've put this thread under Local Items because after all, Queen Beatrix is the head of state of Bonaire (and also because it would drown in Community Chat). Jake, if you feel it should be moved, then go right ahead :)

With the death of Prince Claus there was some interest to open a separate thread on the Dutch royal family. Here we can discuss the latest news, answer questions about the history and future and explain the structure and place of the royal family within the Kingdom.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 7:05 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I'll start off with an introduction of characters for those of you who don't know who is who.

The previous century knew 3 queens. Queen Wilhelmina took to the throne in 1898 and she was our monarch for 50 years, living through 2 worldwars. She was known as an extremely strong, if not harsh woman who ruled her court and country without excepting contradiction. Her marriage with Prince Hendrik, who was slowly smothered by her strength and the fact that she lived for her country, produced one daughter, Juliana.

She became queen in 1948 and lived through many changes in the Dutch society and the structure of the Netherlands. Things like the independence of Indonesia, New Guinnea and (later) Surinam were major changes to the Kingdom. At the start of her reign, Holland was still recovering and rebuilding from WW2. Her warm personality and dislike of protocol were exactly what the nation needed in those times, and she was a true "mother of the nation". In 1937 she married Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld, a German who later took an active part in the resistance against the Nazi-occupation.

Her abdication in favour of her eldest daughter Beatrix came in 1980, in times of great social unrest. Unemployment was high and the popularity of the monarchy was at an all-time low. Beatrix, who has 3 sisters (Margriet, Irene and Christina) took a much more "managerial" approach towards the monarchy. She plays an active role in the Raad van State, the overseeing body of the political structure. Although she only has no real power, she keeps close tabs on what's going on and has been known to voice her concerns when needed.
In 1966 she married the German diplomat Claus von Amsberg, who passed away last week. They have 3 sons, Willem-Alexander (1967), Johan-Friso (1968) and Constantijn (1969). Constantijn was the first to marry, to Princess Laurentien in 2001; they had a daughter Eloise this year. Prins Willem-Alexander was married to Argentinian Maxima Zorreguieta in february of 2002.

When his mother steps down, Willem-Alexander will become the head of state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Martin de Weger on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 7:15 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Marc, this mornig I heared on the radio a not-confermed message that Juliana is in the hospital since last monday. I don't know if it's true, but if it is, it must be another slap in the face of the royal family.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kay Powers on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 1:28 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Marc,

Thanks for sharing. The structure in the United States is so different.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Cynde Lee on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 1:34 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

marc, i thought that Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles, but it isn't? Now this also has me thinking, is St. Marteen (the dutch side) part of the NA as well?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 2:32 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Cynde,

Aruba requested and was granted "Status Aparte" in 1985, and thus separated from the Netherlands Antilles at that time and became a separate country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

If you see a pre-1986 Antillean flag, it has six stars. Post-1985 flags have only five stars (representing Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius (Statia), and St. Maarten.

Marc & Martin - to make this thread a real Local Item, thereby justifying it's place here, shouldn't there also be some discussion as to the following (in addition to Holland's Royalty and their place in the scheme of things - which I would like to learn more about from you):

1) The structure of the Dutch federal/national government;

2) The place in the Dutch Kingdom for the Netherlands Antilles, and in particular Bonaire (as you know, St. Maarten's citizens voted last year to go Status Aparte just like Aruba, but the Dutch government has resisted; Bonaire's position has not been as firm but both Status Aparte and become a province to Holland, just as French St. Martin is to France, have been raised - everyone wants to be rid of Curacao's strangle hold in any event).

So, with that, back to you :-)

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 2:50 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Excellent and informative thread, bravo guys, and do go on.
Here's a question, what does it mean to be a country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands? Is it mostly ceremonial and relating to the monarchy, or are there real political affiliations?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 7:35 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Pfew, this is a nice exercise, I need to rethink and remember all I've learned in highschool :)

The structure of the government... If I remember correctly, the classic form of a democracy is the "trias politica"... The judicial system, the nobelity and the representation of the people. All three of these should be independent and counter-balance eachother. If you look at structures, Great Britain comes closest to this form, because their nobelity is still represented in the House of Lords, their version of the Senate.
In Holland, the nobelity is no longer present in politics (apart from the royal family, that is)... Our form of Trias Politica is made up of the lawmaking power, the judicial power and the executive power.
Our Senate ("Eerste Kamer", or First Chamber), consists of 75 senators who are being chosen by the 12 councils of the Provinces. The only real function of the Eerste Kamer is to validate laws passed by the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber, our House of Representatives). Both Chambers make up the Staten Generaal and form the lawmaking power.

Holland has traditionally always known coalition governments, whose political colour has mostly been just left or right of centre. The party leader of the largest party is appointed by the Queen to form a government, and most times he will be the Prime Minister. A cabinet usually has 12 to 15 Ministers, and the seats are divided according to the ratio of the parties. The government, together with the Queen, make up the executive power.

The judicial power is totally independent from politics, and this is major difference with for instance the US, where Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President. Therefore, our system provides a much better protection to civilians from any errors made by political powers.

Of course, this is the structure of the Netherlands, one of the countries within the Kingdom. The Antilles and Aruba have their own governments. I know that all of the islands within the Antilles have their own ruling body ("Eilandgebied"), and that each is represented in the government of the Antilles.

I don't know the precise ins and outs of the relationship of Holland versus the Antilles and Aruba. I know that Holland is responsible for Defense, but the Antilles have their own judicial system for instance, including laws. You all know they also have their own central banks. So the structure nowadays is mostly that of cooperation, although there have been some voices that Holland should tighten it's grip on the islands.

If Curacao really pushes the Status Aparte, then I think that Bonaire should do the same. Either all together, or all apart. Bonaire COULD be a lot more competitive if it were made to stand on it's own feet... but it would require competent governing and well worked-out plans on the future.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 8:34 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

The relationship between Holland and the Antilles and Aruba is indeed one of cooperation. The Kingdom has a 'Statuut', a document which came into effect in 1954. The Kingdom constituted of Holland, Surinam and the Antilles (six islands). Even Nieuw Guinea was still part of the Kingdom at that time. But that only lasted till a few years later. Surinam became independent in 1975. Now the Statuut is meant for Holland, the Antilles and Aruba (ever since Aruba got a status aparte in 1986). The Statuut is the Constitution of The Kingdom of The Netherlands. It states that all parties are equal and will cooperate with eachother.

The King or Queen of the Netherlands is the Head of the Government. Being 'immune' or 'inviolable', it's the Ministers that carry the responsiblity. The King or Queen has one representative on the Antilles and one on Aruba: The Governors. Besides this the Antilles and Aruba each have one representative in the Dutch cabinet: the Minister Plenipotentiary for Aruba and one for the Antilles.

Aruba has a local government. It's a cabinet of Ministers and one Prime Minister. Before the status aparte this used to be an 'eilandgebied'. The Antilles have a 'double government'. Each island has an 'eilandgebied' with it's Eilandsraad (local house of representatives). Ministers on 'island level' are called a 'gedeputeerde'. I am not sure there is an English term for this. Besides this there is a 'landsregering' ('country government' - the country being the five islands of the Antilles). It is seated in the capital of Curacao (Willemstad) and has cabinet of Ministers and a Prime Minister. The number of seats per island in the Landsregering (or 'Staten') depends on the number of inhabitants per island. This means that Curacao *always* has more representatives in the Staten. As in Holland, the governments on island-level *and* on country-level are formed by coalitions. Also, the government on island-level can be quite different in configuration than the one on country-level.... This makes it soooooooo difficult to do anything on island-level. Because a lot of legislation is made on the higher level, while the 'doing' part is on island level...

The Kingdom has Rijkswetten (kingdom laws). Besides this Aruba and the Antilles are entitled to their own laws in a lot of areas. This means that laws in Holland can be different from the ones in Aruba or the Antilles. The basis of legislation is of course equal, with the Statuut being the constitution...

Still here? It's a very complex governmental situation, I know. The reason (or one of the reasons) Aruba wanted a Status Aparte is because then she could communicate directly with the Netherlands. Besides that Aruba would have her own representative of the Queen and in the Dutch cabinet. Aruba had one other reason for the Status Aparte: national pride. Aruba *is* quite a different island. Besides that Aruba was flourishing in her tourism-endeavours. This way she would not have to contribute to the Antilles and decide everything alone and earn and spend everything alone. This is something that some other islands want as well. Not the feeling that Curacao (where the Staten works from) is deciding everything. One thing though: with a Status Aparte comes another thing: responsibility. It takes a good local government to bring it to a good end (or good beginning): stability on island-level has never been that good on the Antilles... I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I *can* see a lot of nice things coming from a Status Aparte (or anything like that) for Bonaire, BUT that would require a good local government and a stable and healthy governmental environment.... I think that still need a LOT of work... :-/

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 8:47 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Oh, by the way. The governor has a representative on island level: the 'gezaghebber'.

Now, I think it must be obvious why governing the Antilles and the islands is such a pain.... There are too many captains on that ship and too many ports to sail through before anything has reached a terminating/final status... Besides that, one big fat captain (Curacao) rules while forgetting to do things right for the others...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 9:08 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I think "gezaghebber" translates to "he who has the say" (hebber = having, gezag = telling?).

I don't think Curacao wants Status Aparte - they want things running the way they do now so that they can continue to rape and pillage the other island of the Antilles, the way it's been "working" for so long.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 9:19 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

I think that if you'd translate 'Gezaghebber', it would mean 'he who has the authority' (gezag = the authority)

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 9:20 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

But Jake, that's almost the same thing as you just said :)

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 11:22 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

What an informative thread this has become. Thanks Marc, and Kitty, it is apparrent you stayed wide awake in government class!

So the kingdom has a few of it's own laws, which supercede the local laws, I assume, and Aruba, tho it has staus aparte, is still part of the kingdom for defense purposes but is more independent as far as making it's own laws and form of government, as long as they do not go against the kingdoms laws in doing so.

Our dutch neighbors on the island last August told us that Holland sends hundreds of millions of dollars to Bonaire every year and they felt it simply disappears. My guess is that if this is so a lot of the money would go to power and water. Did Aruba's status aparte stop their flow of Guilders from Holland?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:06 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Seb, I don't know about "hundreds of millions"... Holland support the Antilles yes, but I believe in recent times this support has been slow to come. I know that the Antilles have complained about requests for subsidies being put on hold for no apparent reason. It looks like our government only wants to send money if they are sure it's being spend well. Either that, or they want to let the islands feel what it means to be independent.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:08 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

As far as I know Aruba gets a certain amount of money from Holland and the Antilles get a certain amount. Herein lies the difference: Aruba gets her money and can spend it the way she wants it (of course, Holland will set some standards), the Antilles get money and will have to decide where the money goes to. Ergo: share the money between them. Due to political instability and bad financial management the Antilles have been (almost) bankrupt for a long time. Holland says that the Antilles will not receive a certain amount of money untill the finances are in a certain order. Even the IMF has said that the Antilles have to comply to certain rules in order to get money from the IMF. The Antilles are in great debt, it's horrendous. Aruba is in debt as well, but being alone it's easier to bring some structure in the financial situation...
Still, because of the continuous political instability (and good projects being launched and stopped halfway becaue of it) and the (at times) very bad/destructive relationships between the islands it will be very difficult to change all this...
Even when the islands would want their Status Aparte, the debt-issue should be settled first. And that will take a looooong time...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:17 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Maybe some of you have been wondering about the two names for our country, Holland and the Netherlands. It's an historic thing. At one time, our country was called Holland, much smaller than present. "Holland" is now actually 2 provinces (out of 12), Noord-Holland (where Amsterdam is in) and Zuid-Holland (which contains The Hague and Rotterdam). "The Netherlands", or Low Countries, was a name that was introduced when it consisted of the combined 12 Provinces plus (the Flemish part of) Belgium.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:23 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Marc, thanks, many people ask me that.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:25 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

So, would a person be more inclined to say he was coming from or going to the Netherlands if her were from that part of the country, or Holland if he lived in or near North or South Holland? As in, I'm going home to Holland?

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:38 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Seb, a lot of Dutch people say 'Holland' because it is a Dutch word as well, and easy to remember when speaking English. We all should be saying The Netherlands, but that sounds a bit posh and it's quite long... :-)
I have never encountered anyone saying I am going home to Holland when they were in Arnhem and going back to Rotterdam... That would be quite an experience! Even people who are living in the eastern part of the country would say that they live in Holland for instance. I think that few people would consciously use the definitions as Marc is giving here... For a lot of people Holland=The Netherlands even though historically they are not the same...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 12:48 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Well, actually, some people would not use the name Holland... Friesland for instance, one of our most northern provinces, considers itself a part of The Netherlands, but not of Holland; they are very proud of their own culture (and even language). Many Friesians would never say they're from Holland :)

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 1:22 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

No matter where you go, you are either from the north or the south.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Glen Reem on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 1:49 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

A small but important correction to Marc's comments about selection of judges to the US Supreme Judicial Court: the President nominates people to be Supreme Court judges but the Senate approves or disapproves, so the selection is much more broadly based than he implies. Not knowing how judges are chosen in The Netherlands, I am not sure that 'system provides a much better protection to civilians from any errors made by political powers'.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kitty @ CrystalVisions on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 2:02 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Glen, I think that the most important difference is that Supreme Court Judges in the US are (always?) linked to a certain political party. When the president is a Republican he will most likely want to nominate a Republican and when he's a Democrat he will most likely want to nominate a Democrat. So, the Supreme Court Judges are either Democrats or Republicans (up till now). Here in Holland that is not possible. Actually, as a judge you may not be visibly active in politics at all here in The Netherlands. So, here the division between the judicial and political system is much more apparent than in the US.

One of the most interesting cases of the past years must have been the case of the vote-recounting in Florida when Al Gore and George W. Bush were running for President. In this case a political link is evident. Of course, a Republican judge does not *have* to rule pro-Republican but most of the time he/she will...

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 2:33 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Kitty - maybe we need to move this discussion over to the Sniper thread :-)

Seriously, the "Republican" and "Democratic" labels on Supreme Court judges refers mostly to which party's candidates they most recently voted for in primaries. Supreme Court Justices do not go to Republican or Democratic rallies and wave flags in public. And, they don't get chosen because of which primary they voted in. They may have a party affiliation by having donated some money to one party or the other, or, they may have been elected to a judicial seat in a public election (but not all Supreme Court judges from from public office).

Incoming justices get nominated by the president (or really, his advisors) based on their perceived idealogy (conservative vs. liberal) based on their published papers, past descisions, etc. Not on political affiliation, although as I explain below, these are indirectly related.

In the U.S., Republicans are generally the conservatives (right leaning) and Democrats the liberals (left leaning), although both parties cater more to the moderates (those nearer "center" in their idealogies) than they use to.

The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest judicial power in the country, and as a U.S. citizen, I have to trust (although I will not necessarily agree) that they will do what is required by them by the U.S. Constitution and by law.

In the Gore vs. Bush election debacle in Florida, I don't think things were nearly as clear-cut as you make them out to be - it was not a vote along party lines because of party affiliations. It was a vote based on interpretation of Florida's State Laws on election polling (and I seem to recall that the Supreme Court remanded the action back to the Florida State Supreme Court as well, asking them to reevaluate their position in light of what the U.S. Supreme Court read in the Florida law. Just as the same Supreme Court recently refused to hear action on allowing the Democrats to change the Democratic Senate candidate on the ballot a month before the elections in New Jersey because the previous Senate candidate was losing badly in the polls (the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case). If, in fact there was a party-line bias, they would have rejected the effort by New Jersey Democrats.

So please, don't assume that what the media writes (and European media is as biased as U.S. media is) is reality regarding the bizarre world of U.S. politics and legal machinations :-)

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ida Christie on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 2:44 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Well, I'm totally confused. LOL. ;-)

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Glen Reem on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 5:16 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Jake has it right: conservative and liberal 'leaning' not party related. Certainly the Senate has a political party majority at any time (two parties only has an advantage in that no small, fractional party can control majority policy! Or bring down governments over narrow matters. :)) and they naturally try to influence the flavor of the court; so far that has been mild since presidents and Senate majorities change and only one or two judgeships come up during any single presidential term. And many judges here have never been involved in politics-- depends on where they have served as a judge, if they have. Some cities, counties,, etc., elect judges, making a political stand inevitable. I believe Supreme Court judges, as others, must be lawyers. (That could start a whole new round but I expect we might be in general agreement about lawyers.)

The happenings in FL would take a book; suffice it to say that several independent groups (if the New York Times is independent) counted the ballots after the fact and the result didn't change. It is no longer a rallying cry here.

How are Netherlands high court judges selected?

No sniping here from anyone, Jake.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By seb schulherr on Friday, October 18, 2002 - 11:52 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Glen, I have to go on record here about the election, many americans feel it was blatantly stolen, and I think even a cursory investigation will show that. Many people were barred from voting in Florida on the flimsiest of excuses, such as they might be felons, because they had the same name as a felon who had left another state. And the list of those felons came from the state of Texas.
It's also of note that the Fox news director who was the first to give the election to George W Bush is his cousin.
And don't even get me started on our commander in chiefs military record, and the collection of chicken hawks in our government. People willing to send men to war who would never go themselves.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Faith M. Senie on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 11:02 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks, Marc & Kitty, for the explanation of Holland vs. The Netherlands. I see now that it's sort of like the difference between England and Great Britain -- someone in London might say he was from England or that he was from Great Britain, but someone in Cardiff or Edinborough is definitely only going to say he's from Great Britain (and my Welsh grandmother used to take great umbrage if you asked her if she was from England!)...

Faith

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 11:26 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Glen, I had to look it up, but I've found how judges in our Hoge Raad (Supreme Court) are selected.

Supreme Court judges are appointed for life by the Queen. When there is a vacancy, usually when a judge reaches 70, the Hoge Raad sends a notice of vacancy to the Tweede Kamer (House of R.), with a list of 6 possible candidates. This list is brought back to 3 by the Tweede Kamer. Out of these three the Minister of Justice will make a choice and recomend this to the Queen. Our judges are politically independent and should not show any bias. The fact that the initial list of candidates is chosen by the Hoge Raad itself guards this.

The task of our Hoge Raad is somewhat different than the US Supreme Court. Our HR is a body of testing. It has to validate rulings of lower courts against our constitution. As I understand it, the USSC also validates new laws against the Constitution. This gives the USSC potentially political power; it can block laws already passed by parliament, and from what I understand, it frequently does. Our HR very seldomly rules on political issues.

The Hoge Raad, btw, is a body of the Kingdom; therefore, it can also rule on cases of the Antilles and Aruba.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 11:29 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Faith, that is indeed a good comparison, although England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland are more independent from eachother than our Provinces. There is no difference in legal or political position between any of the 12.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 12:54 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Marc,

I think our two Supreme Courts may be more similar than you think. When our Congress (similar to your Parliament?) passes a new law, and then someone is prosecuted under that law, it may be possible to appeal the verdict to an appeals court and on up, ultimately to the USSC. The USSC, if it decides to hear the appeal, evaluates the legality of the law being applied with respect to the U.S. constitution. For example, when a certain U.S. Senator managed to get a law passed which criminalized all sorts of things on the Internet, the U.S. Supreme Court, once it was asked to hear a case where the law had been applied, determined that parts of the new law were unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees free speech.

The USSC cannot take upon itself to judge the validity of new laws without there first being a legal action to bring the application of the law to their attention and venue.

I don't see that as a political process as much as a system of checks and balances - we have three branches of federal government in the U.S. - the Executive (the President), the Legislative (Congress), and the Judicial (the Supreme Court). Each, in its own way, has some measure of control over the others (the Executive nominates SC judges, but Congress must approve them; Congress can pass laws, but the President can veto them and the SC can overturn them if they violate our constitution; etc.), and this structure was created this way to prevent the sort of tyranny the first Americans felt they had suffered from at the hands of the British monarchy, where no system of cheques and balances was in place.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Glen Reem on Saturday, October 19, 2002 - 1:00 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

TKS, Marc, for the explanation.

Your words about the USSC are true generally but misleading. It does have 'potentially political power' and it does declare laws, new or old, constitutional or unconstitutional. (The word 'block' implies deliberate interference not based on US law and is simply not what happens.) I think you will find that the overwhelming consensus here is that the USSC is as apolitical in its workings as any body can be. You may hear different words from some in politics or whose cause has been ruled against but it certainly is not crassly political as your words imply. Franklin Roosevelt tried to 'pack the court' in the 1930s but stopped because of the outcry against doing that.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 5:43 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Okay, thanks guys. I understood that the SC can't do anything unless a law is brought before them. My reasoning was that if new laws get put before the SC, and they test it against old laws... doesn't that make it difficult to get anything to change? Doesn't it happen that a Democratic congress tries to pass a new law, only to see it blocked by a SC where there is a majority of judges put there by a Republican president (or the other way around)?

Like I said, to me that's one of the advantages of a monarchy... the fact that there will always be an a-political party (the Queen) who has a final say in passing new laws.
It does have it's drawbacks too though. King Boudewijn of Belgium for instance once refused to sign a new law on abortion because of his religious beliefs. He resigned for a few hours during which the Belgian congress, in absence of a monarch, signed the law. Then he was reinstated.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jake Richter - NetTech on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 9:59 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

You've got it a little wrong. The USSC can judge on two actions:

1) Whether a case they decide to accept is constitutional (this is where new laws by Congress end up being tested for validity in light of the U.S. Constitution).

2) Whether a lower court (e.g. a State Supreme Court) overstepped its rights and/or misinterpreted particular State laws (this is what was done with the Florida election debacle, and the recent New Jerser election ballots - in the former the USSC remanded the decisions back to the State Supreme Court to review (a slap on the hand for not being careful enough), while in the latter they decided not to hear the case (affirmation that the NJ Supreme Court may have acted properly).

They don't judge new laws against older laws.

Jake

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Glen Reem on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 10:18 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Read above again: the President only nominates candidates, the Senate confirms (says 'yes') or not. So a President cannot just pick judges he wants. Thus, a law cannot be 'blocked' for his political reasons. And the measure used for judging a law is not 'old law' but the Constitution, which can only be changed by the people of something like two-thirds of the states voting for a change proposed by both houses of Congress-- it is not an easy process. Thus stability and continuity over time.

This form of government was developed in Britain and the US to prevent arbitrary law-making by monarchs; many other countries have adopted it. Can't be all bad!!!

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 4:22 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

I'm not saying it's bad :). And our monarch doesn't have law-making capabilities either.

I still disagree with the SC being politcally coloured; if the president picks a candidate, and his party has a majority in Congress, then I think 9 times out of 10 that candidate will be chosen. When you get down to it, the powers are not indepedent of eachother and thus not completely unbiased towards eachother. But that's my own (principle) opinion :).

I know this whole discussion is a bit rudimentary; no system will guard a nation against tiranny if the tirant is determined enough.

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Faith M. Senie on Sunday, October 20, 2002 - 5:54 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Actually, you're right -- if a president of a certain party picks a candidate, he's probably going to pick someone whose idealogy seems to be similar. And if the Senate is majority that same party, they're likely to pass the candidate pretty quickly.

But that's when the surprises start happening. There's something about the Supreme Court seat that seems to bend idealogies. Judges that have always ruled very liberal will suddenly start being somewhat conservative when the Constitution is involved. And very conservative judges will try to find ways to make things fit with the Constitution, which suddenly makes them look somewhat liberal. So the President may think he knows what he's getting when he nominates someone, but that may not be what he ends up with!

Faith

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Meryl Virga on Monday, October 21, 2002 - 11:30 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Great and informative thread as I am clueless to your politics and govenment....type slower ...I'm writing this all down.....quiz in a few weeks..!!! :) (mine of course!)

 

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marc @ CrystalVisions on Tuesday, October 22, 2002 - 1:52 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

Well here's an update for you then Meryl :). Queen Beatrix has accepted the resignation of the cabinet and new elections will be held on the 22th of January. According to the polls, and to the parties, the most likely outcome will be a coalition government with 2 parties, the VVD (liberals) and CDA (christian-democrats). The party of late Pim Fortuyn (LPF) will in all likelihood be deminished to a couple of seats due to all their internal struggling and amateurism.

 


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