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GINGRICH SHOULD STICK TO LAW OR CHANGE IT CONSTITUTIONALLY

SHARE GINGRICH SHOULD STICK TO LAW OR CHANGE IT CONSTITUTIONALLY

Newt Gingrich has announced his intention to violate the Constitution immediately upon becoming speaker of the House. On the first of its 100 days, the new Republican majority plans to impose a rule that will require a three-fifths vote to enact laws that increase taxes.

When the Constitution departs from its basic commitment to majority rule, it does so explicitly: A two-thirds vote of both houses is required to override a presidential veto.Two-thirds majorities are needed when the Senate approves a treaty or impeaches a president. A similar margin is needed when the House expels a member.

But the Constitution never imposes a supermajority requirement for the passage of routine legislation, and never makes three-fifths, rather than two-thirds, a numerical hurdle of special sig-nificance.

If Gingrich wants to create new rules for tax legislation, he should put them into his proposed balanced-budget amendment and seek the approval of two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states.

-Bruce Ackerman

The New York Times