Commentary

Congress needs to know its place

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“…the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions…There are men…who mean to govern well; but they mean to govern.  They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters…” -Daniel Webster

Having spent multiple days listening to Congressman Schiff and Nadler nurse selected witnesses through the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees’ Trump Impeachment Inquiry, it became obvious that members of Congress need a primer on the Constitutional limits to their powers and privileges. 

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution.” -Abraham Lincoln

The written Constitution doesn’t grant to Congress unlimited powers over the American people. In fact, the written Constitution severely limits the powers that the Congress may exercise. The powers given to Congress have to do with protecting the American people’s rights and property from external and internal threat, including the government itself. The first ten Amendments (or the Bill of Rights) embody the restrictions on government’s powers to interfere with the people’s life, liberty, and property.

“[Precedent]…proves nothing more, than a deviation from the principles of the Constitution…in which the power which hath been illegally exercised. Precedents drawn from the mere exercise of a disputed authority, so far from justifying the repeated exercise of that authority, suggest the strongest motive for resisting a similar attempt…and constrained acquiescence of the people under the exertion of a contested prerogative is now urged as a proof of its legality.” -Charles Carroll

During the last few weeks, anyone who could sit through the Schiff and Nadler show was privy to a gross repudiation of the Constitution in general, and the Bill of Rights in particular.

Keep in mind, the President of the United States is a citizen of our country and is entitled to the privileges and immunities of citizenship. The ongoing inquiry, along with other congressional inquiries into the Trump administration and campaign, has made a hash of the Constitution. Due process, presumption of innocence, protection of property, the right to legal counsel, the right to face one’s accuser and the right to call witnesses, are but a few of the abuses being carried out by committees of Congress.

We are told over and over by Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi that the president is not above the law.  Agreed.  However, neither Chairman Schiff or Speaker Pelosi, nor the rest of Congress, is above the Constitution. Their pique at losing a sure thing to someone whom they cannot stand is in no way justification for trashing the Constitution.

The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to Impeach (Article I, Section 2).  This power, like all powers delegated, is limited by the Constitution as a whole.  The power to impeach does not give the House or any of its members the power to negate, through its rules and procedures, the rights of any citizen, particularly an accused citizen.

About John MacGregor

John "Jock" MacGregor is a student of history and politics, a pursuit he has enjoyed for most of his 79 years. Jock attended Villanova University’s School of Education; served in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is an entrepreneur with enterprises in restaurants, construction and boatbuilding. Mr. MacGregor was managing editor of an online news site in Hot Springs Arkansas. Currently, Jock comments on the role of government in society. Jock believes in a constitutionally limited government, instituted by the people, to protect their rights to life, liberty and property.

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