Preserve, protect and defend

The SE Texas Record Jan. 9, 2010, 1:58am

Most public officials swear to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." In some instances, however, no sooner have some public officials uttered that oath, than they begin to violate it and undermine what they've sworn to uphold.

We believe there are instances where legislators write bills that have no Constitutional warrant or are expressly prohibited. Presidents seem willing to sign those bills and high courts seem ready to uphold them. Those legislators suffer no repercussions. In our judgment no one holds them accountable for desecrating the nation's founding document.

That may be changing. As last year's tea parties demonstrated, more and more Americans are outraged at taxation without (genuine) representation -- and at other transgressions against our Constitution committed by public servants eager to be masters.

Some public servants are getting the message. Witness the 12 state attorneys general challenging the special treatment of Nebraska in what appears to be a brazenly unconstitutional health-care bill approaching final passage in Washington.

Our own attorney general, Greg Abbott, is among them, questioning Nebraska's exemption from mandated increases in Medicaid expenditures. "If enacted, the Senate version of H.R. 3590 would impose billions of dollars of new Medicaid obligations on 49 states while singling out only one state for special treatment," Abbott wrote in a letter to our two U.S. senators.

Abbott also warned that a provision creating individual mandates for health insurance "threatens individual liberty and raises serious constitutional questions."

It's refreshing to hear a public servant talk clearly about the Constitution because what he had to say really matters for all of us. The Constitution protects our freedom, but we must protect the Constitution against presidents, legislators, and judges who seem determined to distort its clear intent.

It's in the nature of government to enlarge itself, and thus infringe upon our freedom as it expands. Our government already has grown far beyond its proper limits. Instead of ceding more freedom, we should strive to reclaim what we've already lost.

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