This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
According to the New York Times on June 17, 2010 (full article available on-line)
“I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” Mr. Barton said in his opening statement. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation (BP) can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”
Democrats, smelling blood in an election year, sought to make Mr. Barton an exemplar for Republican ties to “Big Oil.” House Republican leaders, fearing that trap, rushed to contain the damage.
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, and Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip, summoned Mr. Barton and he “was told to apologize, immediately, or he would lose his spot, immediately,” a senior aide said. “We’ll see what happens going forward.”
When Mr. Barton soon did issue a statement of contrition, Mr. Boehner’s office also distributed it, for added effect. Then Mr. Boehner, Mr. Cantor and another party leader, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, together publicly rebuked their colleague.
Mr. Barton, in his statement, apologized “for using the term ‘shakedown’ ” to describe the $20 billion escrow account that BP and the White House announced Wednesday. He also retracted the apology to BP and said the company “should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico” on April 20 and “fully compensate those families and businesses that have been hurt.” ……………………
The Democratic National Committee quickly produced a YouTube video that repeatedly shows Mr. Barton, in a split screen with the BP chief, saying, “I apologize.” The White House piled on. The press secretary, Robert Gibbs, issued a statement calling Mr. Barton’s comments “shameful” and later wrote on his Twitter account: “Who would the G.O.P. put in charge of overseeing the energy industry & Big Oil if they won control of Congress? Yup, u guessed it — JOE BARTON.”
Judicial branch vs. Executive branch
The US Constitution: Fifth Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
We the People:
The authority to confiscate property is vested only in the judicial branch. Representative Barton was expressing his disgust toward our president’s violation of our Constitution. This is an example of how Constitutional compliance is lost in politics. Each branch of the federal government is charged to check the power abuses of the other branches. We have lowered our expectations for the Democratic Party because of partisanship; but why would the Republicans in Congress shirk this responsibility and abandon one of their own? Perhaps not enough of the people are expressing their expectations to either party.