, , , , , ,

Randy Turner of The Turner Report says Brian Nieves’ claim that Governor Jay Nixon is a liar shows that Nieves plays fast-and-loose with the English language, coining “a new definition for liar – “Someone who vetoes one of sen. Nieves’ ridiculous bills.”  Turner is referring to Nieves outrage that Governor Nixon vetoed his baby, SB 267, a bill that tries to be clever by banning Muslim sharia law, a total non-threat, under the rubric of banning the influence of “foreign law.”

Nieves said that, based on the reasons Nixon cites for his veto in a statement addressed to the Secretary of State,  the Governor was lying about the bill’s potential for negative blowback and/or (it’s not clear which Nieves means to imply) that Nixon could not have actually read the bill.

Indeed, if you look at the text of the bill, you will find that Nieves and whoever else helped draft the bill tried to the best of their small abilities to answer objections to similar bills in the past. There’s an obligatory nod of the head to religious freedom, and the bill states, that it cannot preempt federal treaties or agreements with foreign powers that take precedence over state law. It also exempts corporations and similar legal entities from the act when they enter into agreements subject to foreign jurisdiction. One can imagine that Nieves’ outraged howls stem precisely from his conviction that he had taken every pain to insure that he could counter all the possible objections to his silly little exercise in pandering and bigotry.

However, the real bone of contention identified by Governor Nixon and, presumably, his legal advisors, seems to lie in the  terms that exempt Missourians from the legal influence of any foreign legal system or code that is deemed “inconsistent” with the Missouri or United States’ constitutions, or, otherwise, “repugnant.” We know that the former concept is often nebulous must frequently be determined by courts, which can be a time-consuming and expensive exercise; it is not clear who is the judge of what constitutes “repugnant” in this instance. And it is precisely the chilling effect of the uncertainty engendered by such language that forms the focus of Nixon’s arguments:

… . Because all foreign legal systems can be deemed inconsistent with our state and federal constitutions, Senate Substitute Bill No. 267 would needlessly cast doubt upon important legal instruments including wills, trusts, marriage and divorce decrees and contracts that involve foreign law … “

As you can see, it is not simply foreign adoptions, the point stressed in media accounts of Nixon’s veto, that could be endangered, but almost all international legal issues. Nixon’s rationale gives greater emphasis to adoption because the process is excessively fraught, what Nixon calls “an already challenging process.”

Further proof of Nixon’s careful and serious reading of the bill lies in his identification of a potential conflict with the Article 1, Section 13 of the Missouri constitution, which says “no … law impairing the obligation of contracts … can be enacted.” Further, SB 267 can also be interpreted as in conflict with the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution that “requires that states respect the ‘public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state'” – including contracts based wholly or in part on just those foreign legal systems that are called into question by Nieves’ little exercise in lawmaking.

I would take issue with Randy Turner’s characterization of Nieves’ boneheaded response only to the extent that it fails to note that Nieves is probably totally sincere, and truly believes that Governor Nixon could not possibly have read his masterpiece, or that, indeed, he is lying about its legal implications. After all, Nieves is not to blame because the nuanced reasoning contained in Nixon’s veto is far too complex for somebody who thinks that SB 267 could ultimately pass legal muster without harming the complex network of international legal relations. No, the folks to blame for this veto, along with all the expense and wasted time occasioned by SB 267, are the voters who sent this nimrod to Jefferson City in the first place.