Sunday, October 4, 2009

Upholding to the Constitution requires legislators to resist temptation

Yesterday and today, I am posting the remarks made by the co-sponsors of Michigan's SCR4, passed by its Senate Sept. 17 (Constitution Day!). While both co-sponsors are Republican, the resolution was agreed to by all 14 Democrats present:

These remarks are by Sen. Patterson:

Today is a most auspicious day. It is Constitution Day. On this date in 1787—222 years ago; perhaps some might even remember—famous words, “We the People,” were adopted by our Founding Fathers as a part of our Federal Constitution. The Constitution is a document rich in history and unique to the fact that this country has established the blueprint for self-governance.

As we know, but sometimes now and again we need to be reminded, a few years later in 1791, ten amendments to that Constitution were adopted. Thus, the Bill of Rights were enshrined in order to accentuate the intent of the Founding Fathers who had a protracted and vigorous debate over what type of country they wanted to hand on to future generations.

One of those Bill of Rights amendments was the Tenth Amendment, which we will all recall states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states and we the people. Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 4 and Senate Resolution No. 17 serve to remind us, those serving we the people, that a positive grant of select authority—select, specific limited authority—was being extended by we the people to those whom they chose and entrusted to serve.

The resolutions that we have today are really very simple votes to cast. Every one of us knows, before we undertook the responsibilities and obligations of our office, we in accordance with our Michigan Constitution* swore an oath under Article 11, Section 1, to uphold the Constitution and to embrace the intent of those limited specific authorities granted by we the people. It is not an all-encompassing grant, but rather a specific limited authority extended by we the people.

The votes on these two items are relatively simple. We have already sworn that we will faithfully discharge and uphold, but we must understand that we are always being tempted; thus, the fulfillment of the obligations. The honor that we swore, in spite of the temptations extended by both the Democrats and the Republicans to exceed the limited delegation, is always before us. Please be cautious [to] not to violate your oath by exceeding the limited delegation in the discharge of your sworn duties. [Emphasis added]

I know that you will all do the right thing. We owe it to the people.

* The same requirement appears in the Ohio Constitution, Article XVI, Section 7: "Every person chosen or appointed to any office under this state, before entering upon the discharge of its duties, shall take an oath or affirmation, to support the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, and also an oath of office."

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