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Nothing But Contempt For Those Who Trample The Constitution

Louise Slaughter

Thursday was truly a historic day. The United States House of Representatives stood up to those in the Bush administration who believe they are not subject to the Congressional oversight that is mandated by our nation's Constitution.

A Congress that once was asleep at the wheel has finally woken up to hold the Bush administration accountable for their abuse of power and disrespect for the rule of law.

On Thursday, I joined my colleagues in passing a resolution finding former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and current White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas duly issued by the Committee on the Judiciary.

In this era of unprecedented expansion of presidential power, the last thing we in Congress should do is abdicate our responsibility to act as a check and balance to a president determined to assert his dominance over the Legislature, a co-equal branch of government elected by the American people.

When witnesses under subpoena refuse even to appear before a congressional committee and when executive privilege is asserted despite compelling legal arguments to the contrary, Congress must act to preserve its constitutional powers.

Thursday's New York Times Editorial board stated the case very clearly when they wrote, "If Congress fails to enforce its own subpoenas, it would effectively be ceding its subpoena power. It would also be giving its tacit consent to the dangerous idea of an imperial president -- above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances. The founders did not want that when they wrote the Constitution, and the voters who elected this Congress do not want it today."

For far too long, certain high-level staff at the White House have blatantly ignored the law and refused to comply with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas. These same individuals have been given ample opportunity in which to cooperate with this legally binding process. And, frankly, the justifications for their refusal to testify before Congress are few and fleeting.

Formal congressional action against individuals who turn their back on the law and the will of the American people is not only appropriate, but required of us for the sake of future generations.

When historians write the chapters on the Bush administration years from now, they will retell some of the most egregious and unmatched abuses of power our nation has ever witnessed. The president has made it clear that he believes that ultimate power lies entirely in the White House with no opportunity for accountability.

However, the American people don't accept the president's interpretation of the laws of our land.

They understand the genius of having a separate and equal branch of government that represents the people and holds the Executive branch accountable.

They understand that the Constitution of the United States of America -- the most revered document ever conceived by our nation -- should never be trampled upon.

And for those that do trample on it, by every right we are to hold them in contempt. Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter is US Congresswoman from New York.

© 2008 Huffington Post

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