Every Congressman swears an oath to "… preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." To a casual observer, these words could be interpreted to mean that laws enacted by Congress should be consistent with the requirements of the Constitution.
To the majority of Congress, these words mean something else, or have no meaning at all, because much of the legislation produced in Washington has no relationship at all with the Constitution.
If we are a nation founded upon the U.S. Constitution, then our laws should be constrained by the Constitution. If we no longer wish to be constrained by our Constitution, we should abandon it and fly by the seat of our congressional pants.
Let's have a constitutional showdown.
Arizona Representative John Shadegg has introduced the "Enumerated Powers Act" (H.R. 450), which requires that:
"Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act."
What a great idea! Every congressman who has sworn to "… preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" should eagerly endorse this concept – or be exposed as a blatant hypocrite.
The bill was introduced on Jan. 9; it has 18 co-sponsors. This means that 417 representatives are not co-sponsoring the bill – yet. This number could, and should, change. It will not change, however, unless voters force their individual representatives to co-sponsor the bill or publicly explain why not.
This is how to have a constitutional showdown: Every person should call his or her representative and ask directly if the representative will co-sponsor and vote for H.R. 450, the Enumerated Powers Act, or to explain why not – in writing.
Keep a diary. The staff person who takes your call (get his or her name) will tell you that someone will get back to you. When you haven't heard from the staffer in two days, call again. And again. And again, if necessary. If you haven't gotten a reply in two weeks, after four or more calls, write a letter to every newspaper in your district explaining your request, and the response from your representative.
If you get a positive response and a promise to co-sponsor the bill, check with the Library of Congress to make sure your representative has actually signed the bill. When he or she does, write a letter to every newspaper in the district thanking the representative for living up to his oath.
Every representative should be hounded by many callers until each representative either co-sponsors the bill or declares why not. But this may not be enough.
The bill was referred to the Rules Committee and to the Judiciary Committee. Even if the bill had 435 co-sponsors, the chairman of either committee could simply refuse to move the bill from the committee to the floor for a vote.
Sadly, this is what has happened to similar bills in the past. They simply die in committee, and the public never even knows such a bill was proposed.
Not this time.
H.R. 450 should become the theme song of all the "Tea Parties" that are taking place around the country. Glenn Beck's "We surround them" movement should surround Congress with H.R. 450 and the request they sign it, or explain why not. Freedom21 organizations and Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty should join the campaign to force a constitutional showdown. Callers to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity should urge their listeners to focus on H.R. 450, and soon, congressmen will have to sign the bill or explain why they won't.
Representative Louise Slaughter chairs the House Rules Committee, and Representative John Conyers chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Both of these committee chairs should be bombarded with phone calls and emails asking that H.R. 450 be brought to the House floor for a recorded vote. Every constituent and every reporter who has an opportunity to ask a representative a question in public should ask whether he supports the Enumerated Powers Act and if not, why not.
Nothing short of massive public pressure will force congressmen to take a position on this important bill. Nothing short of a return to the Constitution can save this great nation.
This is an easy assignment. Simply enter your zip code in the appropriate box on this web site. Contact information for all your elected officials will be immediately available. It wouldn't hurt to print this information and keep it handy. You may discover that you like taking an active part in influencing your government. Be polite when you call or write, but be firm, determined, persistent and loud. Make sure that your neighbors know what your representative has to say.
Forcing Congress to return to the U.S. Constitution may be the most important service we can perform for our country.