Sixty-Eight Senators Violated Their Oaths of Office

I’m on too many mailing lists and get too many newsletters. I just skim most of them. One of the few that I always read all the way through are the Downsize DC mailings. They’re always well written and informative, and often maddening because of the information they contain.

This one was so good I just had to share it with you in its entirety:

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Quote of the Day:

“…The Bill of Rights is a literal and absolute document. The First Amendment doesn’t say you have a right to speak out unless the government has a ‘compelling interest’ in censoring the Internet. The Second Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to keep and bear arms until some madman plants a bomb. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t say you have the right to be secure from search and seizure unless some FBI agent thinks you fit the profile of a terrorist. The government has no right to interfere with any of these freedoms under any circumstances.”
— Harry Browne (1933-2006) best-selling author, two-time presidential candidate, and co-founder of Downsize DC

Subject: 68 Senators violated their oaths of office yesterday

Do you know the date of the first law ever passed by the United States’ Senate? It was May 5, 1789.

Do you know the subject of that law? It was the “Oath Act.” It’s purpose was to provide specific wording for the oath the Constitution requires Senators to swear upon taking office.

Strangely, the Constitution actually provides the specific wording of the oath the President is supposed to take, but it does not do so for Congress. Instead, the Constitution simply stipulates the following in Article VI, clause 3:

“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; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

The lack of specific wording meant that Congress had to create the wording. The oath they created as their first order of business, was very simple . . .

“I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”

Of course, later politicians have been increasingly fond of complexity, causing the oath to mutate into this . . .

“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.”

The result remains the same. And please notice that members of Congress do not swear an oath to support or defend the nation, the country, or the government. They swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, specifically. This is very important . . .

The Founders viewed government as a servant of the people. They did not make the mistake that so many supposed “patriots” make, of thinking the government is the same thing as the nation, the country, or the people. Our country is made up of many institutions — families, churches, businesses, associations — of which the government is only one. All of these institutions taken together, and all the individuals within the country, independent of any institution, are what make up the country.

The government is meant to serve the nation, not BE the country.

In keeping with the ideas expressed in our Declaration of Independence, our government was instituted with highly limited powers. The instrument that imposed these limitations was the Constitution, and it is this document that members of Congress swear an oath to defend.

One of the consequences of Constitutional limits on government power is that bad people are often permitted to get away with doing bad things. The government is categorically denied many of the powers that might aid it in the apprehension of criminals. For example . . .

There are hundreds of murderers running lose in America, and thousands of murders committed each year, that the government might be able to stop. The Constitution specifically prohibits government from doing all that it could do to save lives by catching murderers.

Were the Founders crazy? Were they stupid? No, they were not. The Founders knew that any government that has all the power it might need to optimize its apprehension of murderers, would also have all the power it needed to become a mass murderer.

The Founders knew, even in their time, that governments were, historically, the greatest killers of all. The history of the last century has only added to the evidence. Tens of millions of people were murdered in the 20th Century by governments that had too much power. Our Constitution protects us from this; so far.

Think about that.

But now, because criminals murdered thousands of people on September 11, 2001, many are eager to abandon their Constitutional protections.

Have we become a nation of sniveling cowards? If not, please explain how it is that Congress has either bowed to or exploited this fear to become a gang of lawbreakers?

Yesterday, 68 Senators violated their oaths of office. They voted to pass S. 2248, a new law designed to replace the so-called “Protect America Act.” This bill violates the Bill of Rights . . .

* It permits the President to spy on Americans without a warrant.
* It grants retroactive immunity to tele-communications companies that collaborated with the Bush administration in previous warrantless spying, thereby creating an incentive for other companies to engage in similar crimes in the future (only Qwest Communications insisted on warrants).

Will this new, un-constitutional power, prevent future terrorist attacks? Of course not, nothing can do that, just as there is no law or power that could completely stop murders by domestic criminals.

Does this new law create a tyranny? That would be an exaggeration. But what will happen when the next terrorist attack comes?

The sniveling cowards among us, and the lawbreakers in Congress, will then seek still more powers.

At one point will our children call this tyranny? Will there be any turning back?

Yesterday, 19 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and 1 independent voted to violate the Constitution and their oaths of office. Only 28 Democrats, 1 independent, and ZERO Republicans remained true to their oaths. The Republicans were universally bad.

But please notice that the law could not have passed without the vote of the Democrats!

Let this be clear — neither political party is going to protect our Constitution, unless WE compel them to do it.

All hope is NOT lost. S. 2248 cannot become law unless the House agrees to its provisions. Fortunately, the House version of this bill, while not perfect, is signficantly better. Our best hope, and we must take it, is to tell the House to stick by their version of the bill.

A list of how the Senate voted is pasted below my signature.* Use the personal comments section of your message to Congress to thank your Senator if he or she voted against S. 2248, or to criticize your Senator if he or she voted for it. Ask your House member to reject the provisions of S. 2248.

You can send your message from the website.

Also, please make a contribution to further our work. Your contribution is our budget. You can contribute here.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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*I left the list out, but you can find whatever you need to know on the site. Stop by and vote, and sign up for their newsletter.

Update:  Finally, the government does something good, if only through inaction.  The House refused to renew this, so the sunset clause made it history last Friday.

How much influence did the 40k+ e-mails sent by members of Downsize DC have?  We can’t know  for sure, except to say it helped.

2 Comment(s)

  1. I’m just afraid that this will give them more time to find something they can all agree with. And when they all agree we almost always get screwed.
    You know as well as I do that the president and the republicans will try to find a way to buy the votes of the democrats ( i.e. more social programs). So in the end we will get more socialism and more fascism.

    Tom in NJ

    Tom | Feb 19, 2008 | Reply

  2. That always does seem to be the end result. We can’t stop it, all we can do is hope to slow it down a bit.

    Hittman | Feb 20, 2008 | Reply

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