by Max Brantley
Restrict or ban abortion? Call it the "fetal heartbeat" or "fetal pain" act.
I presume when they introduce the bill to start strangling the Medicaid program they'll call it the fiscal responsibility act .
Here's a real one by Sen. Jason Rapert, SB 1164. He hasn't given it a tricky name yet, so I've dubbed it the Taxpayer Supported Demagoguery Act. I'm open to better.
What would it do?
It would allow Jason Rapert to hire his own attorney to defend unconstitutional acts he sponsors — like the ban on abortions beginning at 12 weeks — and not rely on the attorney general of Arkansas, constitutionally endowed with the duty of defending state legislation. All that's necessary for Rapert to be allowed to hire his own lawyer at state expense would be for the attorney general to express, even informally, some concerns about the constitutionality of a particular piece of legislation. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has been circumspect about Rapert's unconstitutional abortion bill, but he has noted the obvious court precedent against the bill. For 40 years now, it has been impermissible for states to ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb. At 12 weeks (Rapert originally wanted it as early as 5 and to jam women with a vaginal probe in the process), the Arkansas law falls a good three months short.
This attorney fee bill is potentially quite expensive, given all the legally dubious demagoguery and special interest sops that are cruising to passage this session, on everything from women's rights to environmental protection.
Here's a modest proposal for an amendment if the Republican majority is really going to give Jason Rapert the keys to the treasury for his religious law firm: If he loses, he must pay the state's cost.