Bridge to a little more than nowhere

Bob Sheridan bobsheridan at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 9 11:51:05 PST 2005


Pork is certainly "ordinary social and economic legislation" as I 
understand the term, and within the commerce and other clauses, no 
doubt, e.g. post offices, military support installations, bridges, and 
the like, but the 'interesting' thing about it is that whereas the 
public would rise up if legislators voted themselves pay raises every 
year in a salary-pork bill, there is no uprising when the tradeoff is my 
vote for your post office in return for your vote for my bridge.  Hence 
the BTN out of Ketchikan.  Why?  Because the public is included in the 
boodle.  We've been bought off with bacon.

I'm advised I overstated the cost of the bridge (said to be $231M out of 
a $941M pork bill), thanks, and now I can't get back into Salon to check 
w/o registering, etc.

The larger issue that I'm thinking about is a list of perennial issues 
that suggests that in places the Constitution doesn't work as well as 
one might hope.  There's pork, campaign finance, presidential power to 
enter and conduct war, etc.  Were there a new constitutional convention, 
what else would you add to the list of subjects requiring revision?

rs
sfls

Michael Zimmer wrote:

> Aren't these all very good questions, but questions that are for the 
> legislature? The very negative reaction to the decision in /Kelo/ (and 
> in fact /Lingle) /could create new effort to develop greater judicial 
> activism vis a vis these kinds of economic/political areas to 
> revitalize economic substantive due process. The background for such a 
> movement would be the all too general perception that certainly the 
> national legislature is corrupt and incompetent because the members 
> have been completely captured by special interests. Is selling out by 
> the legislature or the executive of the public good for special, 
> private interests a grounds for judicial activism?
>  
> If this development comes to pass, can the Court avoid /Lochnerizing/ 
> itself, avoid adopting the economic policy of Spencer (or Marx for all 
> that matters)? Could you make the test something like the 
> following: Where no public social benefit can nearly be achieved that 
> is at all commensurate with the cost of providing that benefit, there 
> is a presumption that the legislation is unconstitutional as only 
> being for the benefit of special, private interests?  Would that test 
> mean that /Lee Optical/ and other old precedents would be overturned?
>  
> Mike
>
> Michael J. Zimmer
> Professor of Law
> Seton Hall Law School
> One Newark Center
> Newark, NJ 07102
> 973.642.8833
> 973.642.8194 fax
>
> -----conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu wrote: -----
>
>     To: "Bob Sheridan" <bobsheridan at earthlink.net>, "Sanford Levinson"
>     <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu>
>     From: "Douglas Laycock" <DLaycock at law.utexas.edu>
>     Sent by: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
>     Date: 11/09/2005 12:57PM
>     cc: ConLawProf Listserv <conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu>
>     Subject: Bridge to a little more than nowhere
>
>         The Salon story, which is not at all favorable to the bridge,
>     reports that "An airport on the island hosts fewer than 10 commercial
>     flights a day."  So the claim that the city's airport is on the island
>     appears to be true.  It's just that the city (population 8,000)
>     doesn't
>     have many flights.
>
>         The ferry runs in summer; how do they get to the airport in the
>     winter?  Helicopter?  Snowmobiles?  What about the spring thaw and the
>     fall freeze up?
>
>         So "bridge to nowhere" appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.
>     But does the benefit from this bridge remotely approach the billion
>     dollar level?  The projected cost, before overruns, is $941 million.
>
>
>     Douglas Laycock
>     University of Texas Law School
>     727 E. Dean Keeton St.
>     Austin, TX  78705
>       512-232-1341 (phone)
>       512-471-6988 (fax)
>
>     -----Original Message-----
>     From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
>     [mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Bob Sheridan
>     Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 12:39 PM
>     To: Sanford Levinson
>     Cc: ConLawProf Listserv
>     Subject: Re: Just a thought
>
>     I do appreciate the kind replies; thank you.
>
>     Here's a link to Salon.com which shows a photo of the mountainous
>     isle,
>     population 50, across from Ketchikan, pop. 8,000.  The bridge, costing
>     some $941 million, will be longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and
>     higher
>     than the Brooklyn Bridge.
>
>     http://tinyurl.com/8ek8x
>
>     Reminds me of the one about the fella' who finds the magic bottle,
>     rubs
>     it, a genie appears and offers him a wish.  The fella' wants a
>     bridge to
>     Hawaii.  Genie says that's too hard, make another wish.  Fella'
>     says he
>     wants to understand what women want.  Genie says, "How many lanes?"
>
>     Anyway, so much for rational basis when it comes to pork; it seems our
>     constitutional system has no provision for controlling spending, at
>     least not by citizens, for those wondering whether the Constitution
>     works and what to do about it.
>
>     rs
>     sfls
>
>     Sanford Levinson wrote:
>
>     > I do not believe that the bridge connects with an airport.  Put it
>     > this way:  Not one of the numerous newspaper and online stories
>     about
>     > the "bridge to nowhere" suggests that this is the case.  And
>     even if
>     > it did, incidentally, the current way to get to the island is a
>     > seven-minute ferry ride.  This is pork however one spells it.
>     >  
>     > sandy
>     >
>     >
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     > *From:* conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Jerry O'Neil
>     > *Sent:* Wed 11/9/2005 10:41 AM
>     > *To:* ConLawProf Listserv
>     > *Subject:* Just a thought
>     >
>     > While I might not support the bridge in question (or any federally
>     > funded highway improvements for other than interstate highways),
>     it is
>
>     > my understanding that it goes to the municipality's main airport
>     and
>     > is a very necessary bridge for the citizens. It is not a "bridge to
>     > nowhere".
>     >
>     > Jerry O'Neil
>     > Montana State Senate
>     >
>     > Bob Sheridan wrote:
>     >
>     >> If legislation must be rational enough to pass rational basis
>     >> scrutiny, and must be congruent and proportional to the harm
>     that it
>     >> purports to rectify, and must be supported by good evidence,
>     not just
>
>     >> anecdotal or worse, I wonder whether the annual pork bills, which
>     >> include, for example, the bridge-to-nowhere in Alaska, can
>     withstand
>     >> review.  Do taxpayers have standing to protest, for example, the
>     >> bridge-to-nowhere?
>     >>
>     >> rs
>     >> sfls
>     >>
>     >>----------------------------------------------------------------------
>     --
>     >>
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