Don’t get me wrong. I’m completely sympathetic to Senate Republican leader Len Fasano, who is all over talk radio this morning expressing his outrage over the State Senate’s convene-and-adjourn veto-override session. Though Sen. Fasano told The Courant “I’m very disappointed the way this came out, and I’ll leave it at that,” he went way beyond that on the radio programs of Brad Davis and Vinnie Penn, calling it “cowardly” and a violation of the Connecticut State Constitution, which requires a special session of the legislature to consider possible veto overrides.
One bill vetoed by Gov. Malloy had passed the Senate 36-0, Sen. Fasano said, so an override was likely had majority Democrats not abused their power. Sen. Fasano noted that Gov. Rell had been overridden 16 times and charged that what happened in the Senate yesterday was a violation of the State Constitution’s requirement for a veto-override session.
But about that outrage on behalf of our State Constitution: Does anyone remember the time it mandated a vote, on whether to hold a constitutional convention, be held in 2006 and then-Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz singlehandedly changed the date of the vote to 2008? Bysiewicz somehow interpreted the Constitution’s requirement that a vote be held every 20 years to mean every 22 years (the last vote had been 1986) and a UConn Law professor who was a leading expert on the State Constitution called her out on it. Given that Bysiewicz was later found unqualified to run for Attorney General by a 9-0 vote of the Connecticut Supreme Court, we suspect that Professor Kay had the better of the argument.
In fact, it was the most blatant violation of the State Constitution by a member of the executive branch in living memory. But in 2006 the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations and the Family Institute of Connecticut were the only two groups that objected to Secretary Bysiewicz’s actions. We never heard a peep of protest from Gov. Rell or the Republican Party.
Again, I’m glad Sen. Fasano is speaking up on talk radio this morning. The State Constitution should be obeyed, especially by those sworn to uphold it. And I know that Secretary Bysiewicz’s 2006 convention move is esoteric stuff, not as sexy as calling out the other party on talk radio and telling the listeners that elections matter.
But the CT GOP’s silence then and its outrage now demonstrates something FIC has been telling other elements of “the Right” in Connecticut for many years: Social conservatives are the canary in the coal mine. You cannot simply declare yourself a “fiscal” conservative, take no part in fighting the attacks on faith and family that FIC warns against and think that the assaults on freedom–and the rule of law–in one sphere of life will not eventually lead to assaults in other spheres too.
We know CT GOP candidates are told by party officials to have nothing to do with social issues at election time. But if they really want elections to matter, they should speak up whenever the rule of law is threatened and not just when the majority party pulls a fast one.