Seasoned members of the U.S. Senate may be forgiven if they think U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, elected to the Senate only five months ago, is a bit of an upstart. It is an unwritten rule in that august body that newly arrived Senators should be seen but not heard until they’ve paid their dues for a year.
In the past two years, Connecticut lost two Senators of longstanding, Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, who were replaced by Democrats Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both of whom in the last six months have been vigorously pressuring their brethren to vote into law a much watered down version of Connecticut’s recently adopted gun law.
These efforts, so far, have been unavailing. Two months have passed since Speaker of the U.S. Senate Harry Reid announced that he declined to bring up for a vote in the Democratic controlled Senate a bill that would require background checks for gun purchasers.
In response to the horrific mass murder of children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut’s General Assembly quickly passed a gun bill widely regarded as the most restrictive in the nation, possibly outflanking Chicago, the murder capital of the Republic.
There is some reason to believe that the final gun bill in Connecticut was speedily passed -- far in advance of the completion of a criminal report on the Sandy Hook mass murder and without benefit of a final public hearing on the measure – so that the Connecticut legislation might be showcased in Washington D.C. prior to a pending vote on a national gun bill.
If so, the effort failed. Mr. Reid, convinced he could not marshal sufficient votes in the Senate to pass a bill infinitely less restrictive than the Connecticut legislation, recently declined to bring the bill before the Senate for a vote.
Governor Dannel Malloy -- who said concerning his state’s gun manufacturers as Connecticut’s gun restriction bill was being forced through the General Assembly’s sausage making machine, "What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible, even if they're deranged, even if they're mentally ill, even if they have a criminal record. They don't care” – was of course disappointed that a much weaker national gun restriction bill had failed to pass muster in the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate. And Connecticut’s two cloutless U.S.Senators were sorely frustrated. Both Mr. Blumenthal, now the state’s senior senator, and Mr. Murphy publically lashed out at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their weak-kneed comrades in the Senate whom they understood to be hanging limply from puppet strings attaching them to NRA campaign contributions.
Either of Connecticut’s now departed U.S. Senators might have told the two novice senators that such public intimations are no way to win friends and influence comrades in what some have called the world’s greatest deliberative body. Are Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy prepared to argue that Harry Reid, the Democratic Speaker of the Senate, is a mindless puppet of the NRA?
Well, are they?
Mr. Murphy in particular moves from rashness to rashness the way a flitting pollen collecting bee moves briskly from flower to flower. Along with U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Mr. Murphy – having danced a public jig over the grave of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment – has now proposed to add to the Constitution an amendment that would, according to some Constitutional scholars, “authorize Congress, states, and local governments to, for instance, restrict what most newspapers publish, restrict what most advocacy groups, such as the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and the NRA say, restrict what is said and done by most churches, and seize the property of corporations without just compensation.”
Here is Mr. Murphy’s proposed amendment:
Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are unalienable
The Murphy amendment is a thoughtless and juvenile reaction to a Supreme Court holding that the rights and immunities of the U.S. Constitution should continue to apply to corporate entities. Mr. Murphy’s own state, one of the 13 original colonies, was founded as a royal chartered corporation. Constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, noted that “corporate entities,” include most media companies, nonprofit groups, and religious organizations. “Under the proposed amendment, all these groups—as well as ordinary businesses—would lose all their constitutional rights.”Connecticut’s junior U.S. Senator appears to be determinedly working his way through the Bill of Rights in an attempt to purge it of its ancient excrescences. One can almost hear him ticking off the list: Second Amendment, done; First Amendment, done. For progressive utopianists unwilling to acknowledge a politics of limits, not even the rational limits imposed by constitutions, the sky is always the limit.