Once in a while, I have an irrational thought (maybe more than once in a while). I could not help but view the Iowa Caucus race between all of the Republican candidates. During the drawn out struggle and the debates that sprinkled our daily news fare, I kept on hearing a refrain that has made me wonder about such things.
Even 60 minutes gave voice to the man who has organized the “No Tax” Pledge. There are many Senators and members of the House of Representatives who have signed such a pledge. It was probably a good strategy when they were running for office. It was even better when they could go in front of the t.v. cameras and say that, “I pledged not to raise taxes and I kept my word.”
What do these actions mean exactly? If we get ourselves into a shooting war with and adversary that has the economic wherewithal to compete with us, will we then need new taxes for weapons and such and will these “Pledgenauts” not vote for a tax increase? Will they then be guilty of not abiding by the U.S. Constitution?
When a member of the federal (or even state) legislature swears to uphold the U.S. Constitution, can he/she pledge not to uphold parts of it, or even all of it? Save pledging the overthrow the government, is there something wrong with pledging ahead of time that you will do or not do something that is unconstitutional?
I placed this question in front of one of the finest legal minds that I know. Tom is able to distinguish my rants from a legal issue that I present. He was not so quick to dismiss my thoughts. He said that there have been such cases, not many, that have referred to this problem. They are not quite clear in their outcomes, but there is such an issue.
I realize that there is a difference between saying that you will not do something, like raise taxes when you are running for office, or trying to maintain your position as a legislator. That is not what I am talking about. I believe that signing a pledge that you will or will not do something that is plainly within the purview of your pledge to uphold the Constitution is something else again.
Tom reminded me that pledges and even swearing in court is not what it used to be is probably why people feel that they can just about say anything with no consequences. If I appear to sound like and old fogy right now, you are probably correct.



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