Alexander's Column

Honor Your Oath!

By Mark Alexander · Jan. 6, 2011
“If congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” –James Madison
The U.S. Constitution

When Speaker of the House, John Boehner, took charge of a Republican majority (242-193) after the 2010 midterm elections, he proclaimed, “I stand today in awe of our great nation, humbled by the opportunity to defend the Constitution and serve the American people as Speaker of the House. We must restore the House as an open institution that listens to the people and does their will. We must end D.C. rituals that have made it easy to dodge tough decisions, then make the choices necessary to return our economy to prosperity.”

For the record, Mr. Boehner, the first obligation of every member of Congress is “to support and defend” our Constitution, which authorizes the House to do the will of the people only to the extent that it comports with the plain language of our Constitution. The current state of the central government, bloated to the point of implosion, is the direct result of political machinations doing the bidding of special interest groups, to the great detriment of our Constitution and the Rule of Law it enshrines.

Our Constitution specifies, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…”

Speaker Boehner and the other 434 Members of the House took this oath in accordance with Article VI, clause 3 of our Constitution: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

While every member of the House and Senate should be bound by their sacred honor to “support and defend” our Constitution, most returning members have dishonored their oath willfully and repeatedly.

There is good news, however. The once dwindling ranks of steadfast conservatives in Congress – those who have honored their oaths in years prior – have been greatly bolstered in the most recent election cycle by dozens of newly elected representatives and senators, who, I assure you, will abide by their oaths, and do so vociferously.

While it will certainly take many more election cycles to restore constitutional Rule of Law, the grassroots “Tea Party” movement has changed, and will continue to change, the political composition of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our government. It will do so by encroachment, the steady replacement of those who have forsaken their oath with those who will honor their oath to support our Constitution.

Mr. Boehner’s first order was to require the 112th Congress to open its proceedings with a full reading of our Constitution. Ironically, it was not a full reading as the version read had been abridged to omit parts that were later negated by amendment, such as the clause in Article 1, Section 2, which noted that black slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person.

While all leftists and most centrists take this reading as symbolic only, no member of the House of Representatives can now say that they have not, at the least, heard every word of the Constitution of the United States of America. Gloriously, it also sets a firm foundation for the upcoming session and a yardstick by which we can measure Republican leadership.

Of course, Democrats have strenuously objected to the notion that constitutional authority limits the role of the central government, and have done so with great resolve.

When asked by a reporter in 2009 about constitutional authority for the central government’s takeover of the U.S. health care system, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” When the reporter persisted, Pelosi moved on to another question while her press spokesman said, “You can put this on the record: That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

Democrat Patrick Leahy, then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (where Rule of Law should prevail), added, “We have plenty of authority. … I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that.”

Pelosi and Leahy believe they have unbridled authority because they subscribe to the so-called “living constitution” which, as Thomas Jefferson warned, has become “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

Some ranking Democrats were a bit more brazen. Former Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) proclaimed, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do.” California Rep. Pete Stark added, “The federal government can, yes, do most anything in this country.”

Well, folks, there’s a new sheriff in town, and his posse is prepared to ask a lot of questions about constitutional authority for congressional legislation, and hold the line.

By opening the 112th Congress with the Constitution reading, perhaps those members who shun constitutional constraints will now pay more special attention to Article I, Section 2, which specifies, “All legislative powers herein granted [emphasis added] shall be vested in a congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

They should then pay close attention to Article I, Section 8, which specifically enumerates those powers, and recall the words of its principal scribe, James Madison: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

Jefferson added, “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition. … [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers. … In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Though this has received scant attention, Mr. Boehner also pledged to pass legislation requiring the enumeration of constitutional authority for every bill considered by the House.

If the Republican House will pass an enumerated powers act requiring all legislation to stipulate its specific constitutional authority (as first and subsequently proposed by just-retired Rep. John Shadegg in every Congress since the 104th), that will elevate the national discourse about what the Constitution does and does not authorize. Enhancing that discourse, which is a primary driver of the Tea Party’s momentum, will put the restoration of constitutional authority on a faster track.

Enumerating authority for legislation has been a primary Patriot Post objective since our inception. Indeed, it was the basis for our petition of the Bush administration for an Enumerated Powers Amendment. This proposed amendment is also a primary component of the Patriot Declaration, which stipulates “that all legislation explicitly cite its compliance with the Tenth Amendment to our Bill of Rights, ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,’ thus prohibiting the central government from usurping the powers reserved to the States or the People.”

If the Speaker succeeds with enumerated powers enactment, the next step should be an amendment as this would make the enumeration of constitutional authority binding on both the House and Senate, and not be subject to legislative revocation.

In 1776, a great insurrection was mounted against the throne of tyranny, and from that revolution was birthed our Constitution. We face the prospect of such tyranny again, and the solution now, as then, is government constrained by the Rule of Law as enshrined in our Constitution.

Moving forward, those politicos of any stripe who forsake their solemn oath to support and defend our Constitution, and abide by its constraints, should be subject to censure and removal from office. The momentum of the “grassroots Tea Party Movement” will increase, despite efforts by the Leftmedia to undermine its grassroots drive, and we will expand further the ranks of constitutional conservatives in the coming years. We must demand that every elected official honor their oaths.

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63 Comments

David said:

A quick view of FOX News during the reading of the Constitution indicated an empty chamber. The old saw about a horse and water come to mind.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Tim said:

Mark,Thank you again for your Constitutional vigilance, and I pray you have sent or will send your article from this morning to Mr. Boehner - and perhaps even copy the man who sleeps in the White House as well. After all, it is the trampling of that Constitution in the first place that allowed him to find his bed in said White House.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Budd said:

Mr. Boehner has already violated his oath by quoting fraudulent unemployment statistics, yesterday.BG

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Jiggs in Millen, GA said:

Now that there has been a change of direction in Congress, particularly the House, we, in the Tea Parties around the country are going to hold ALL their feet to the fire to get the country back and keep it that way. All you dufusses who don't believe it, watch your collective backs! This is not a threat, it's a promise.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:50 PM

CWFoster said:

Amen! And the NEXT thing would be to hold an investigation into members of congress who have willfully dishonored their oath, removing them from office with forfeiture of all benifits, pensions, and pay received since the offence. The democrat videotaped at a town hall meeting saying "I don'care about the Constitution, I'm trying to save lives!" Comes to mind as the best case to start with.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Robert F. Lopez said:

The next step should be to limit the scope of legislation. Ideally legislation should be single issue. The parts of a bill should at least have some commonality so that we don't wind up with things like student loans being included with healthcare "reform."

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Haskel Sikes said:

Dear Folk:I am numbed by the complexity of our bloated govenment. I ask you, "What can this Congress [112th] do to reverse, repeal, yet be humane, in order that our Nation can have some restoration of the will of the people?"Your response would be greatly appreciated.Hask

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:56 PM

sarah said:

Before we congratulate ourselves too thoroughly on the changing of the guard, please read "The Forgotten Man." This book is a recent, well-written, shocking history of FDR and the Great Depression. It could be a playbook for what is happening today and what could continue to happen if we don't step up the action on all fronts as well as send increased numbers of staunch Constitutionalists to top government.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:59 PM

dale h ellsworth said:

i concur with your concourance!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Sarah said:

P.S. The first line of attack should be to put a law into place forbidding the use of Executive Orders, retroactive to FDR's years as president. These are completely un-constitutional and never discussed by any side in the continued debate over our liberties.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Joe in Socal said:

I will point out that the Constitution and Bill of Rights predated the 11th through 26th Amendments and the debates thereon. No one can seriously argue that the rights possessed by the states pursuant to the 9th and 10th amendments can be further delegated and enumerated by the States [and the people through their State legislatures] onto the Federal government.With that said, using the commentary of the Founding Fathers on the interpretation of a document amended some 16 times since its inception can be a bad spot from logic to buttress an argument that the document is limited to what the founders in the 18th century claimed it to be.Subsequent authors of amendments and state legislatures ratifying amendments broadening powers [as in the hideous 14th] must also be looked at to see the scope of what was intended. I personally do not believe that the 14th amendment is valid, given the failure of the Federal Government to allow legislatures elected by the people to take office during Reconstruction in the former Confederate states, but I"ve been outvoted 5-4 on that. I believe that the bloated self-collapsing nature of the central government bears witness to the wisdom of the quotes of the Founders, but logically the entire documents, including the ratification statements of the 11th through 26th amendments need to be carefully examined to determine the intent of the States granting expanded power to the feds. The fact that the States acquiesce to the expanded powers in exchange for the money puts paid to any reasonable argument that they object to the expanded powers . . ..

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Jim G said:

@ David. Agree. The reading of the Constitution on the floor of the house should have occurred yesterday just prior to the administration of the oath of office. That would have ensured ALL members were present during the reading.Mark - As always, great essay. Much is needed to restore our government to the bounds of the Constitution. But that venerable document needs a bit of repair itself, to set right some of the damage done to the balance it was intended to create and maintain in the manner of government. So, while our new Congress is in the spirit of "Repeal" I would like to see the 17th Amendment repealed. This would restore representation of the individual states to our National Congress, as the founders intended. Restoration of state representation would undoubtedly inhibit the ability of futures Congresses to pass unconstitutional legislation on the whims of a popular opinion or mood. Upon close examination the 17th has been, I think, at or very near the root of much of what has gone wrong with our Federal Government exceeding it's boundaries over the last 99 years. God Save the Republic.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Harold (Wyatt) said:

The government makes sure that our Military abide by the oath that they take to start each enlistment, and everyone else who states an oath for their position, should be made to live by the oath. I spent twenty years in the Navy, and took an oath numerous times, and had to live by it, so I think everyone should be held to their oath of office. If not, then they need to be removed from their office, with their benefits being denied. If I had been put out at anytime before reaching the 20 yr. mark, I would have lost mine. There are a lot of people in government positions today that should not be there. It's time to really clean house.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Rev. Dr. Don Bailey said:

Mark, your piece, Mr. Boehner, et al.,Honor Your Oath! was great and to the point, but where were all the members when the Constitution was read? The presence of every member should have been required. Those members who were critical of the reading of the Constitution is akin to a Christian who would critisize oral reading of the Bible in church.Thanks, MarkA strong defender of the Constitution

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:13 PM

William Derby said:

In making the Enumerated Powers Amendment part of our Constitution, I would add with that ammendment that any person attempting to subvert the written Constitution, legislatively or judically, shall be judged guilty of treason and prosecuted as such.There is only one way to change the Constitution and that is by ammendment.

Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:16 PM