Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is there an editor in the house? Confusion on Aisle 6

OK, tonight's challenge, untangle these grafs from a story about a push to get S.C. legislators to take roll-call votes:

Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, told The Nerve last week that he favors a roll-calling voting law – despite criticism he has received to the contrary – but only with an accompanying constitutional amendment.

Without an amendment, any new law likely could not be reviewed by the S.C. Supreme Court if challenged, given past court rulings, said Martin, a businessman. That, in turn, could result in a future Legislature watering down a newly passed law without any legal recourse, he said.

“I think the two (state law and constitutional amendment) have to go together because everything we talked about last session is just window dressing,” Martin said. “I don’t have a problem with a roll-call voting requirement, but I will tell you that I will defend the constitutional principle.”

Any constitutional amendment would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House, and a simple majority of voters statewide.  Martin said he has spoken with Senate Minority Leader John Land, D-Clarendon, about an amendment, and “he has no problem with it,” adding, “I think we’re going to get substantive Democratic support of it.”

Land, an attorney, told The Nerve on Monday that he would support an amendment to accompany a bill, noting, “A statute alone would not be binding because it’s violative of the constitution.”

OK, is it a problem because the law could be watered down in the future without any court review? Or is it a problem that the law itself would be plain unconstitutional - in which case, why couldn't the state's highest court review it since it's job is to pass on the constitutionality of state laws (and how would you know it was unconstitutional if the court could not rule)?

Please, break the glass and pull the emergency editing lever. This would be one reason I don't agree that copy editing should be deprecated in the online era. The heck with piddly language issues; leaving your audience massively confused is the greater sin.
Here's another, this from  a recent edition of The State:

 Call it a trend. South Carolina’s jobless rate dipped slightly in November to 10.6 percent, marking the third consecutive month the state’s jobless rate has dropped — from 10.7 percent in October and 11 percent in September. 

For the year, unemployment has dipped nearly 2 percentage points.

But, compared with November 2009, there are nearly 40,000 fewer people unemployed.
First of all, we can do without the useless "call it a trend." Second why "but" in that third graf. Fewer people unemployed is good news, right? Or did the writer mean fewer people employed?

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