Amendments may be unconstitutional

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The County Council has submitted to the voters amendments to the Charter which, if passed, will probably be ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

On their face, these amendments appear to abrogate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The First Amendment, in part, states "Congress shall make no law respecting…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Webster's defines "abridging" as "to reduce in scope, diminish, deprive, to shorten in duration." This is exactly what the council has in mind in submitting these proposed changes in the Charter to the voters. Its action is nothing more than a facetious attempt to circumvent the First Amendment.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis, one of the most able men to occupy a position on the U.S. Supreme Court, said in one of his decisions, "the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Some of our councilors, both past and present, should take note of what the judge was concerned about.

Perhaps it is time instead of amending the Charger, that we discard it and adopt a mayoral form of government. The rapid turnover of county managers indicates that overzealous individuals who seem to be responsible or accountable to no one have usurped too much influence in administrative matters and we are losing too many able managers as a result.

If we had a mayor who could control the council with veto power and feel the pulse of the electorate via email, we might be able to bring better administrative and financial control to our affairs.

Joseph L. Menzel

Los Alamos