Thursday, April 21, 2011

Republicans playing with constitutions III

Eric Roper reports on Political Hotdish that Kurt Zellers believes that voting is a privilege, not a right. After apparently spending the evening with Mark Buesgens, Zellers said this on the air, in front of God and everybody:

"When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonalds and use your debit card, they'll ask you to see your ID [to be] sure its you," Zellers said. "Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred -- I think it's a privilege, it's not a right. Everybody doesn't get it because if you go to jail [Actually, you have to be convicted of a felony, not simply go to jail, or Mark Buesgens wouldn’t be entitled to vote, or maybe even sit in the Legislature; I’ll have to study that one] or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege."

Hot Dish feels compelled to point out that the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution reference [Spot prefers “refers to”] voting as a right, not a privilege. It must also be noted that the U.S. Congress in 1965 passed what it called the Voting Rights Act.

And I feel compelled to point out that if you use a debit card, you will NOT be asked to show an ID – I can’t remember the last time I was, anyway, and I bet you can’t either. Voting is, in any event, a constitutional right, is manifestly different than buying a cheeseburger, which is not a constitutional right, except maybe in Maple Grove, but Zellers is so dim he can’t even get his analogies straight.

To Mr. Roper’s laundry list, I would only add this: Article I, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution:

No member of this state shall be disfranchised [that means deprived of the right to vote, Kurt]  or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.

Oh, and this, too: Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution:

Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled [not may be, only if Kurt Zellers thinks it’s a good idea] to vote in that precinct. The place of voting by one otherwise qualified who has changed his residence within 30 days preceding the election shall be prescribed by law. The following persons shall not be entitled or permitted to vote at any election in this state: A person not meeting the above requirements; a person who has been convicted of treason or felony, unless restored to civil rights; a person under guardianship, or a person who is insane or not mentally competent.

If voting was truly a privilege, we could deny the franchise to, say, people from North Dakota – which, on reflection, has some appeal – or because they have red hair, or because they’re African American or Hispanic.

The fact that Kurt Zellers – demonstrably a constitutional bozo – is the cream of the Republican crop and the Speaker of the Minnesota House speaks volumes about the wattage of the entire Republican caucus.

Update: Zellers is taking well-deserved punishment for his remarks. Zellers does not understand that if some activity is secured to you to do, and it can only be taken away if you commit an act (like a felony), that’s a right.

Perhaps some of you remember – it may still be taught by driving instructors and state patrolmen, for all I know – that  driving is a privilege, too. When I loaned the car to my son for the evening, that was a privilege. But when he reached the age, passed the tests, and kept his nose clean, driving was his right. I have read somewhere, but don’t have a link at the moment, that the Lege is considering putting grades, school, and perhaps good grooming on as conditions for young drivers.

Interestingly, both Zellers’ knot head remarks and and overreaching efforts to control adolescents comes from the same place: authoritarianism, or as I like to describe it when I’m talking about Katherine Kersten, bug-eyed control freakism.

1 comment:

foxmarks said...

The rights have explicit qualifications there in the passages you cite. The contention then is not over anyone’s absolute Constitutional right, but over the limits and conditions under which the right may be exercised.

What is conditional is more a privilege than an inalienable right. All you’re standing on is a claim that this is a *really, really important* privilege.