James Madison penned this conclusion in Federalist Papers, #51:
This policy of supplying by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power; where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other; that the private interest of every individual, may be a centinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the state.
According to the founders, checks and balances were critically important in any organization and especially civil government. Evidently, the Republican leadership in the Alabama legislature do not exactly agree, even when the other office and check is occupied by someone in their own party.
In another snub toward Republican Governor Robert Bentley, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate has wrested power from and greatly diminished any influence the Governor may have in the rewrite of the state constitution. As I discussed earlier, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh is pushing through a bill to “reform” the Alabama state constitution. The bill will create a commission with 16 members in include:
- Republican Sen. Del Marsh and three persons he appoints. (25%)
- Speaker Mike Hubbard and three persons he appoints. (25%)
- 4 specified Republican House and Senate Committee Chairmen (all hand-selected by Marsh and Hubbard for their posts) (25%)
- Lastly, Governor Bentley and his three appointees
Do you see balance there? The Legislative Branch (really two men: Speaker Hubbard and Sen. Marsh) controls 75% of the members of this Constitutional Reform Commission. The Executive, a co-equal branch of government, has only 25%. (Granted: Rep. DeMarco may be a Bentley man.) That, however, is better than the Judicial branch which has no members, no influence, and no participation in this process at all. (In contradistinction, Florida, which has a commission process in place, fairly and equitably draws its commissioners from across every branch of government.)
The Riley/March/Hubbard/Byrne faction of the Republican Party must be still chapped at the Governor for beating their crony in the primary. This present chop-block follows a long series of other snubs and adverse power-plays.The R/M/H/B faction painted the Bradley Byrne’s race against Gov. Robert Bentley “as a showdown not between two Republicans, but a battle for the heart of the state GOP.”
- In the primary, the R/M/H/B then undercut Gov. Bentley by rushing “ethics” legislation through a special session before Bentley went into office.
- After he won, they continued to fight Bentley, implying he was a “RINO.”
- Then, the R/M/H/B employed a “party power play aimed at providing the Riley-Hubbard-Marsh branch of the party with formidable resources” that will be outside the grasp of the party apparatus aligning with new Governor Bentley.
- Speaker Hubbard formed his own Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation as a direct competitor to Bentley’s proposed cabinet-level Office of Small Business Creation and Development.
- Byrne created of his own government watchdog group, Reform Alabama, an outlet to criticize and prod at the Bentley administration for the next 4 years.
Does anyone believe this faction would have granted former Governor Riley only 25%?
Will this now governor stand up for his co-equal power and veto the bill unless he is provided equal power to Marsh and Hubbard? Or will be continue to be run over by the Legislative leadership? Perhaps, Bentley will propose his own Commission proposal through an ally in the House which balances the power.