By Jason Herron, Convention of States District Captain Windham-1
Vermont’s Legislature just voted to pass a “law” that the Republican Governor signed, which authorizes individual cities and towns to pass temporary mask mandates. Vermont’s Senate Majority Leader Becca Balint (D-Windham) stated. “We need our executive branch, our governor and our Department of Health to step up and protect the people of Vermont when we are facing the most challenging and difficult time of the pandemic in Vermont.”
Senator Balint is a lawmaker, elected and entrusted to enact laws. She is adamantly trying to delegate that trust to the Governor or some other department. Not only does she prefer to delegate the authority trusted in her, but she sounds upset it hasn’t already been usurped. Does she have the authority to do that? If the answer is yes, why do we need legislators? Can the legislative branch transfer the power of making laws to anybody else, or place it anywhere, but where the people have?
U.S. Judge Terry Doughty doesn’t think so. In his recent ruling about President Biden’s vaccine mandate he states:
“If the executive branch is allowed to usurp the power of the legislative branch to make laws, two of the three powers conferred by our Constitution would be in the same hands. If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency…During a pandemic such as this one, it is even more important to safeguard the separation of powers set forth in our Constitution to avoid erosion of our liberties.”
What is Senator Balint’s motive for delegating the trust given by her constituents? Once the trust has been delegated, who do the People hold accountable for the resultant policies? Is Senator Balint responsible or the newly delegated authority? Can the Governor create law and then execute the law he just made? Is the governor authorized to punish violations of mandates that were enacted by individual towns? This method of “law making” breeds confusion and a lack of accountability. Can the Legislature, if it conveniences them or promotes their agenda, make law makers to avoid the accountability of making laws?
Vermont’s Constitution Chapter 2 section 5 reads: The Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary departments, shall be separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to the others. The United States Constitution says: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The Legislative branch makes laws, the Judicial branch gives opinions on those laws, and the Executive branch executes the laws. Does Senator Balint want the Governor to make a “law” and then execute the enforcement of it? It appears, by her statement, that is exactly what she wants. Does the president of the Senate understand the fundamental principles behind the Separation of Powers? How does her method of “law-making” help Vermonters in Congress? Is she going to delegate her lawmaking authority to whomever the President is or whoever is running the department of health?
Why would the law maker want the executive branch or city councils to make a perversion of “law”, disguised as a mandate? Why not use the legislative process granted to her in the Vermont Constitution? Consider this: does the Constitution give any form of government jurisdiction over a citizen’s liberty to breath air without constraints? If the government is restricted from enacting laws that diminishes freedom of speech, i.e., the 1st Amendment, how can they have the jurisdiction to diminish the free flow of air in and out of your lungs? Do you only have the freedom of speech so long as you are wearing something covering your nose and, the most common method of communicating, your mouth?
Article 15 of the Vermont Constitution reads: The power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, ought never to be exercised but by the Legislature, or by authority derived from it, to be exercised in such particular cases, as this constitution, or the Legislature shall provide for.
Can the Vermont Legislature “provide” the free citizens of their State with additional law makers to govern them?
If any member of the Vermont Congress, certainly the Senate Majority Leader, is too incompetent to make good laws and feels the need to delegate that trust to the Governor, an agency, town counsel or the local high school student counsel, they should resign their office and give it up to someone who is up to the task.
Stay tuned for the solution to this problem!
The author is a Guildhall resident active with the Convention of States.
I will anxiously await Senator Balint’s reply to this issue. The premise outlined by Jason Herron is succinct, well written and presented and is certainly deserving of a reply.
Thank you Jason for raising this issue.
Thank you for reminding us ALL that our State and United States Constitutions are the Foundations and Supreme Law of our Country and States.
ALL Elected Officials take an Oath to uphold the Constitution yet, if we look at the day to day actions and decisions that are made, there is NO EVIDENCE they are serious or genuine in fulfilling their Oaths.
Even though Vermont Elected Officials will most likely read this article and come up with some convoluted and contorted justifications for their unconstitutional actions, we need to keep doing our job as citizens. Our Constitutional role is to hold our elected officials legally accountable.
VERMONT CONSTITUTION – Article 6
“That all power being originally inherent in and consequently derived
from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether
legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all
times, in a legal way, accountable to them.”
@vtbeliever, right on, hold them accountable by contacting them on a regular basis, talk to them in person, they can only represent you IF they know what you are thinking. They cannot read minds. Call them, email them, meet them in person. Everyone has a house representative or two. Everyone has a Senator. Contact info can be found on the legislature’s website. Search for your town there. It’s time for action now before your representatives retreat to Montpelier in January.
When people are afraid, they do horrific things. Sen, Balint should step aside and let Leaders lead the People.
Excellent and about time! Thank you, Jason.
Well said. But we who have spent many nights away from family attending Selectboard meetings opposing municipal Mask Rules also wonder why the Legislature led by Balint and Speaker Krowinski supported that delegation of power? Select boards don’t want that “Police Power” and are rapidly rejecting the option (last count 61 No towns, 15 Yes towns). They understand passing feel-good Rules in already divided communities is purely political fodder, but for whose cannon are they fodder?
Balint is a special demagogue here but all those who voted in favor of S. 1 in the Special Session have explaining to do. Rep. Dave Yacavone (D-Morristown) voted No explaining he saw this divisive political maneuver for what it was: “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.”
Not one VT Legislator has attended the Selectboard meeting to stand up for their political cudgel that I have seen. Demand your Legislator explain why their “great courage” is being rejected out of hand by the people and their local leaders?
And this from our Vermont Constitution:
Article 7. [Government for the people; they may change it]
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.
In other words, no separate segment or portion of our Vermont community or an individual can be separated out for special treatment by the government for good or bad.
Like most progressives, she want to “do the right thing” but is not always sure what that constitutes. She will take the credit if the decision is seen as beneficial but wants political distance if there are consequences. Leaving it up to the Governor she can hedge her bet. This is important now that she seeks higher office. If the masking and vaccine mandates and passports turn unpopular among her supporters, she wants wiggleroom. Her supporters would say she is being courageous, but certainly that definition has shifted a bit since the Normandy invasion.