Bearing No Faith or Allegiance to the Constitution
Before taking a seat in Congress, all elected senators and representatives must swear an oath of office. In summary, they are required to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, bearing full faith and allegiance to our nation's foundational law. Their oath confirms their willingness to bear these duties freely and without reservation. It seems the vow was changed when the people weren't looking.
Too many members of Congress regard the Constitution as an obstacle, not as a sacrosanct document they must support and defend. They bear little faith, and less allegiance, to its directives. The Constitution, now a "living" document, has devolved into a legislative and bureaucratic playground where anything goes. Alleged representatives have decreed the federal government above the restraints imposed by a 200-year-old parchment. There are no constraints, no delegated federal powers, and no reservation of non-delegated powers for the states and the people. Anyone who dares question Congress' obvious contempt for the Constitution is dismissed as a crackpot.
Our once-revered Constitution is now reserved for political grandstanding and posturing. Otherwise, it's increasingly irrelevant to the central government's actions. Federal disdain for the Founding Fathers' crowning achievement was thoroughly displayed during the debt ceiling debate. Rep. James Clyburn, a high-ranking but woefully inept Democrat from South Carolina, encouraged President Obama to "sign an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment" to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally, bypassing Congress altogether. His colleagues reportedly applauded his proposal.
Ironically, Clyburn and his political kin once condemned a president for usurping congressional authority. That president was accused of going to war unilaterally, ignoring Congress' power to declare war under Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. The accusations were pure demagoguery. U.S. troops weren't deployed to either theater, Afghanistan or Iraq, via presidential decree. Congress voted on both wars, expressly granting authority to the president to use military force as he deemed necessary.
The same legislators who falsely accused a previous executive of abridging congressional authority encouraged the current executive to do just that. Politics, not principles or delegated duties, drove these legislators' interest. The Constitution, and their oath to uphold it, became an afterthought. The disingenuous nature of James Clyburn and his ilk is thereby established. But are their claims about the 14th Amendment accurate? Does the Constitution enable the executive to raise the nation's debt ceiling arbitrarily?
Sen. Barbara Boxer agreed with Clyburn. "As far as the 14th Amendment is concerned, I urge every American to get their Constitution and read it. It says the debts of the United States shall not be questioned."
Boxer is correct in one regard. We should read our Constitution -- all of it, especially the 14th Amendment. There, in Section Four, are Boxer's words, but only in part. Predictably, she hasn't born full faith and allegiance to the document. The Constitution's language regarding the public debt doesn't support her position, so she simply ignored the words she found politically inexpedient.
The 14th Amendment indeed addresses "the validity of the public debt of the United States." However, that debt must be "authorized by law." Raising the debt ceiling naturally increases the government's access to revenue. Therefore, to be authorized by law, any attempt to increase the federal government's ability to borrow must arise in the House of Representatives in order to comply with Article 1, Section 7. Furthermore, according to Article 1, Section 8, "Congress shall have power ... to pay the debts of the United States" and "to borrow money on the credit of the United States."
The 14th Amendment itself grants the president no authority to increase the nation's indebtedness by a single penny, or to secure debt in any manner. Section Five of the 14th Amendment explicitly entrusts authority for enforcing the article's provisions to Congress, not to the presidency. The president can do nothing of his own volition in regard to the public debt. In fact, neither the president nor the executive branch is mentioned in the 14th Amendment's text, save for the recognition of voting rights.
I hope Sen. Boxer is satisfied. I read my Constitution and found her in utter violation of both the document's spirit and language. She, Rep. Clyburn, and their nefarious left-wing cabal are totally ignorant of the Constitution's division of powers and authorities, or they've born untrue faith and allegiance to the same in blatant violation of their oath of office. Barbara Boxer, James Clyburn, and their cohorts should be expelled from Congress. So should any senator or representative, regardless of party or ideology, who so disregards his or her oath.
The legislative branch is far too comfortable shifting its constitutional duties to the executive branch when politically convenient. Such an arrangement -- allowing a single public officer to make key decisions -- may expedite government activity. But it's not how representative government functions. It's dictatorial, pure tyranny. The Founders designed our Constitution to restrain the central government, compelling it to move deliberately. It should never be unfettered and able to act on the whims of a single authority.
Our representative republic is in perilous condition. By and large, congressional delegates possess contempt for the Constitution they've sworn to uphold and for the electorate they represent. Too many representatives and senators care nothing about constitutional checks on federal authority, the separation of powers, or their responsibility to the public's trust. They pledge loyalty to a document they haven't the slightest intention of honoring, making them liars from the moment they utter, "So help me God." Yet they have the audacity to lecture the population as if we're ignorant or irresponsible.
Our senators and representatives, especially Barbara Boxer and James Clyburn, should read the Constitution. It's past time they bore full faith and allegiance to its principles, as their oath demands. Said oath of office has not changed. If Congress members honor their vow, they can remain the people's delegates in a representative republic. If not, they are despicable tyrants who should be removed from office without delay.
Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 300 articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. Contact him via his website, www.therightslant.com.