THE SPIRIT OF LAWS => THE SEPARATION OF POWERS

constitution1.pngLike many men and women in their later years, with Delegate Scott Lingamfelter regards the policies of the current occupant of the White House with a mixture of astonishment, horror, and anger.  Here is how he expressed that combination in his latest email.

Resolve Independence

I’m up early this morning counting blessings and having all of our children with us for the Independence Day holiday.

I say Independence Day because that is the specific title of the celebration. Often people call this holiday “The 4th of July”, but when we do, we risk missing an opportunity to remind people that it’s a lot more than parades, picnics, and a cool dip on a hot day. We are celebrating independence from tyranny; then imposed by the British; now in the threats to our liberty posed by our own government.

I never saw it coming. I served this nation’s Army for 28 years, and in combat too, and the oath I took to the Constitution is one I felt was life long, not transitory. So I know you, like I do, recoil when we see our President and the Attorney General of the United States implement government by executive fiat, completely bypassing the legislature that is granted the authority-exclusively-to pass laws.

The other day President Obama said he was frustrated with Congress and that he will take independent action. Mr. President, this is NOT the “independence” day our Founders had in mind when they penned the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution.

Our Constitution is only as steady as those who abide by it. And when we have leaders who decide to ignore it, our independence from tyranny is fundamentally threatened.

When I was running for the Lieutenant Governor nomination, I reminded folks that I thought people would look back on this time historically and refer to it as “the time of constitutional challenge”. A year later, I am more alarmed that we are in a time of “constitutional dereliction”, a posture which if unchecked will destroy liberty.

So this Independence Day, reserve some time to think about what our Founder’s had in mind when they wrote our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Ask yourself what you resolve to do about it-yes resolve-not just complain. And remember our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen deployed overseas. While politicians make speeches about freedom, fighters deliver it.

Our independence will not be secured in the knowledge of our liberties alone. It takes the action of patriots. As my friend and Founder of the Family Foundation, Walt Barbee, was fond of saying “knowledge without action is useless”.

Remember that this Independence Day.

When the founders wrote The United States Constitution, they referenced the  The Spirit of laws by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. Why? They thought what Montesquieu had to say about the separation of powers highly important. Oddly, Montesquieu spoke about this subject in respect to England, their recent adversary. Here is a sample.

6. Of the Constitution of England. In every government there are three sorts of power: the legislative; the executive in respect to things dependent on the law of nations; and the executive in regard to matters that depend on the civil law.

By virtue of the first, the prince or magistrate enacts temporary or perpetual laws, and amends or abrogates those that have been already enacted. By the second, he makes peace or war, sends or receives embassies, establishes the public security, and provides against invasions. By the third, he punishes criminals, or determines the disputes that arise between individuals. The latter we shall call the judiciary power, and the other simply the executive power of the state.

The political liberty of the subject is a tranquillity of mind arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

Again, there is no liberty, if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.

There would be an end of everything, were the same man or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and of trying the causes of individuals. (from here)

When our president seeks to combine both executive and legislative powers, that is not a good thing, not at all.

 

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