No Legal Overstep Left Behind

15 03 2007

Pluto and Charon by David A. Hardy“Be it resolved by the legislature of the state of New Mexico that as Pluto passes overhead through New Mexico’s excellent night skies, it be declared a planet” the successful house bill HJM54 begins, passing 70-0.

Pluto must be celebrating indeed, after California lawmakers couldn’t deliver on “a similar legislative missive last year, going so far as to say that the ‘downgrading of Pluto reduces the number of planets available for legislative leaders to hide redistricting legislation and other inconvenient political reform measures.. .’ [and that]
‘downgrading Pluto’s status will cause psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe and worry about the instability of universal constants.’ ”

It seems Pluto’s demotion upset more than a few politicians. Scientists also plan to take up the issue at upcoming conferences of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the European Geosciences Union.

“EGU and AAAS are both much larger professional organizations of scientists than the IAU,” said Alan Stern, the principal investigator of a NASA probe that is on its way to explore Pluto. “I think this is empirical evidence that the IAU definition is fatally flawed and other scientific organizations are now stepping up to the plate to repair the situation IAU has created,” he said.


“Most of our politics in America is about the disappointment of not meeting the high goals we set for ourselves.”
–Senator Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education trying to explain the legally codified rhetoric of No Child Left Behind.