Have liberals finally stretched the constitution too far?
By J.J. Jackson
Baseball may be America's favorite pastime, but liberals have a favorite pastime of their own; stretching and warping the Constitution. They've been at it so long that it has become a sport which they excel at and one at which daily practice is strongly encouraged, if not already mandated, for any aspiring leftist.
Of course, they only succeed in this pursuit when discussing the Constitution amongst themselves. When they journey out into the real world they run into people like myself who have spent a lot of time discussing how they distort and down right lie about what is in the document that established our current government. When they try to engage in their favorite sport with normal Americans who are not willfully blind as to what the Constitution says and have a grasp of the English language beyond that of a first grader, they fail miserably with their spin which always leads to interesting, if not ignorant, slogans, rants and shout-fests.
Rep. John Murtha may just be finding out that he and his liberal brethren have stretched the Constitution as far as the Constitution is willing to stretch even with a healthy suspension of logic, history and basic English however. Recently, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ordered Rep. Murtha to give a sworn deposition in the case brought against him by Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich relating to his unwise, ignorant and self-serving comments about the marines in Haditha participating in "cold-blooded murder and war crimes". It is important to note that the case against these Marines has fallen apart.
Murtha's defense, which was rejected so far by the judge, was that Murtha was immune from prosecution and even questioning about the incident because those comments were made while acting in his official role as a United States Representative. This is an apparent reference to Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution and his "interpretation" of what it says which might get by people unable to actually read the Constitution. But since I actually can, it isn't going to fly with me and apparently not with the judge either.
For the record, Article I, Section 6 states in it's entirety: "The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place."
The long and the short of this section is that if you are an elected representative of the United States in either house of Congress you cannot be arrested while the Congress is in session, nor can you be arrested while traveling to or from said session. It also grants immunity from prosecution for any "speech" or "debate" that takes place on the floor by saying that they "shall not be questioned in any other Place". Which would include a court of law. The exceptions to this are of course given as when the Representative or Senator commits a Felony, Treason or "Breach of the Peace".
Notice there is no exemption for acting in your "official role" beyond these limited descriptions. It is important to note at this time that John Murtha made the statements with regards to our soldiers and promulgated his charges at places other than during a "speech" or "debate" in the House such as at press conferences and on Chris Matthew's television program.
So is he immune? Should he not be questioned? Should he just be free to continue to make these assertions? Not unless you really, really stretch the meaning of the Constitution and read between the lines by inserting language that isn't there. Making such statements during Speeches and Debates in the House may be deplorable and anti-American in as much that they were made without evidence and to prejudice the case against the Marines to promote John Murtha's delusions, but his despicable acts would be protected. However once he steps out of the Halls of Congress he has no more protection.
He is not being arrested either. This is a civil suit, not a criminal matter. So again, Article I, Section 6 does not apply. Now, if he refuses the order to comply he could be faced with an arrestable offense such as contempt of court. In such a case, he had better convince the House to remain in permanent session and always be in a constant state of travel to and from the Capitol when it is to avoid arrest.
You could also make a strong case that his words provided aid and comfort to the enemy since the Haditha incident was used by our enemies against America and freedom seeking Iraqis. And since treason is a clear exemption to this clause as well as the first amendment I certainly would be looking over my shoulder if I were Mr. Murtha.
But it's just the Constitution. Right? And since when do liberals actually care about what the Constitution actually says? Since when do Congressmen care that their power is not unlimited? So I am sure that John "Where's My White Flag?" Murtha will continue to whine and twist and squirm in an attempt to avoid the truth.
All the while his fellow members of Congress can continue to their smoke screen to cover their own failures. They can run cover for him and promulgate abuses of their power by waging a dog and pony show over things Rush Limbaugh didn't even say with regards to our troops who are serving bravely over in Iraq and slamming General Patraeus and calling our troops Nazis, stupid and anything else that they can think of. All for what? In order to try and further convince moonbats who naively believe that the troops really do agree with their stance on the war? Despite the fact that they are continually signing up and even re-upping to serve in a time of war for a mission the liberals detest so much?
Perhaps we are finally getting to a point where the Constitution has been stretched as far as it can be by the left to support their ideas and goals. But even if it has, I doubt they will stop trying to stretch it even further. At which point it is only a matter of whether it will snap back like a rubber band and leave a massive welt or completely break.
God help us if it is that latter.
J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the lead editor of Conservative News & Opinion – The Land of the Free and also the owner of The Right Things – Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at http://www.libertyreborn.com.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!