Legal Thought Of The Day, No. 6

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Legal Thought Of The Day: No. 6
Current mood: busy
Category: News and Politics

“The Constitution does not grant to members of the public generally a right to be heard by public bodies making decisions about public policy….

“Public officials at all levels of government daily make policy decisions based only on the advice they decide they need and choose to hear. To recognize a constitutional right to participate directly in government policymaking would work a revolution in existing government practices.

“Not least among the reasons for refusing to recognize such a right is the impossibility of its judicial definition and enforcement. Both federalism and separation-of-powers concerns would be implicated in the massive intrusion into state and federal policymaking that recognition of the claimed right would entail. … Government makes so many policy decisions affecting so many people that it would likely grind to a halt were policymaking constrained by constitutional requirements on whose voices must be heard. ‘There must be a limit to individual argument in such matters if government is to go on.’ … Absent statutory restrictions, the state must be free to consult or not to consult whomever it pleases.

“However wise or practicable various levels of public participation in various kinds of policy decisions may be, this Court has never held, and nothing in the Constitution suggests it should hold, that government must provide for such participation. [T]he Court rejected due process as a source of an obligation to listen. Nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues. … No other constitutional provision has been advanced as a source of such a requirement. Nor, finally, can the structure of government established and approved by the Constitution provide the source. It is inherent in a republican form of government that direct public participation in government policymaking is limited. See The Federalist No. 10 (Madison). Disagreement with public policy and disapproval of officials’ responsiveness, … , is to be registered principally at the polls.”

~Justice O’Connor
Minnesota Bd. for Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984)

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9:57 AM – 3 Comments – 0 Kudos – Add CommentEditRemove
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whoa, heavy. can you paraphrase that, cause i just don’t quite understand what the point of this one was.

Posted by The Dog & Pony Show on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:41 PM
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Although you have a First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, there is unfortunately no First Amendment obligation on the part of the government to listen to you!

Posted by Tim on Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 8:18 PM
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With regards to public policy, this is ridiculous. I would really like a say in policies that are going to affect my life. AAAAAAAArgghhh…

This doesn’t have much to do with this at all, but for some reason it reminds me of the guy who said the racist and sexist comments on the radio last year. He has a right to say those things, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to be paid to do it.

Posted by J’Nette on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 12:38 AM
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