Unlike my brother, I am not one to rant. Occasionally, however, someone in Congress says something that is so stupidly outrageous (or outrageously stupid), that my normal mild mannered demeanor is forced to rant. So, please forgive me, I’m not used to this.
Congressman Grayson, sadly from my home state – though luckily not from my district – recently proposed legislation that would allow Treasury Secretary Geithner to set the salaries of all who work for any company receiving TARP money. Forgetting for the moment that this “law” would create a marvelous bureaucracy of folks who, among their many tasks, would be able to decide what the teller at your local bank should earn, I think it appropriate to dig a bit deeper.
When asked how such a law could be constitutional, the congressman, on national television, pointed to the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Of course, he didn’t mention the 14th Amendment, he only said “due process and equal protection”. Either he is dumber than a rock, or he firmly believes Americans are dumber than a rock.
The 14th Amendment provides, in pertinent part, (as we lawyers would say) that no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. And, yes, that Amendment also provides that Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Amendment 14 was passed to insure that the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, actually had some “teeth”.
On to my rant. How anyone with more than a fourth grade education could hope to say that the above words from the 14th Amendment mean that Congress can pass a law allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to decide the salaries of anyone who works for a company accepting TARP money is more than bewildering. No, it’s demeaning.
Brave young men and women died to fulfill Lincoln’s dream that the phrase “all men are created equal” actually meant that. Thus the 13th and 14th Amendments.
Apparently our “good “congressman cares little of that if he can fool the public with the feels good phrase “due process and equal protection” .
Shame on him.
Certainly, the due process and equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment has been applied to situations other than making sure that all Americans, regardless of their color, have the same rights. But no case that I know of has held that that Amendment allows the Executive branch of our government to decide who should earn what.
And first they came for…
I am more than happy to discuss the “due process and equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment with the “good”congressman at his convenience. Think he’ll take me up on that?