On Constitution Day, My ‘Founding Fathers Award’ goes to Sen. Robert Byrd

By Mary MacElveen

September 17, 2007


I have not given out my “Founding Fathers Award” in quite sometime, but today, I choose to hand it out to Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia on this special day. The celebration of Constitution Day was adopted back in 2004 and as reported by the AP, was the “brainchild of Senator Robert Byrd” In that adoption, Constitution Day was to be celebrated on September 17th.


According to the AP, “The law requires any school and college receiving federal money to teach about the Constitution on or about Sept. 17.” Let us only hope that they live up this law, not only for the funds, but to remind every child what this country stands for and that is the rule of law.



Our Constitution is vital and most politicians should be mindful of the historic nature of it. 


Our Constitution is not just a document, but a sacred promise to ‘we the people’ that everyone should and must be equal under the law without exception.  Senator Byrd is mindful of that fact as he carries a copy of it on his person.


To tie this day into the continued debate on the war in Iraq, on November 7th, 1973 the War Powers Act was adopted and contained within section 2, paragraph c it reads, “The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”


In reading that section as it relates to the war in Iraq, President Bush clearly broke the law and the Iraq War Resolution never formally invoked the War Powers Act and nor was it a formal declaration of war.  In all honesty, this war was illegal right from its inception.


I would like to remind congress that the sovereign country of Iraq did not attack us on September 11th so it does not even rise to meet the War Powers Act.


On this day, Constitution Day, I want to remind congress and the American people of this passage contained within a previous article of mine exactly what a resolution is, “In a house of a legislature, the term resolution refers to measures that do not become laws. This is used to differentiate those measures from a bill, which is also a resolution in the technical sense. The resolution is often used to express the body's approval or disapproval of something which they cannot otherwise vote on, due to the matter being handled by another jurisdiction, or being protected by a constitution. An example would be a resolution of support for a nation's troops in battle, which carries no legal weight, but is adopted for moral support.”


So, as you will clearly see the Iraq War Resolution is not protected by the United States Constitution and carries no legal weight.  As President Bush was given moral support to bring his argument to the United Nations for our invasion, no moral support was to be had for our U.S. military who have died and been wounded in battle.  No moral support was to be had by the Iraqi people in which 1 million have died.


When it came to the Iraq War Resolution, Senator Byrd amongst a small percentage within that body voted for it.  On June 5th, 2003, Senator Byrd gave a speech and in it he cited, “How reliable were the claims of this President and key members of his Administration that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction posed a clear and imminent threat to the United States, such a grave threat that immediate war was the only recourse?” As we all now know, Iraq was not an imminent threat to our national security and was not from the beginning.


In the spirit of Constitution Day, we the people should be demanding answers from our elected officials as one reads this passage coming from Senator Byrd, “Lawmakers, who were assured before the war that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq, and many of whom voted to give this Administration a sweeping grant of authority to wage war based upon those assurances, have been placed in the uncomfortable position of wondering if they were misled. The media is ratcheting up the demand for answers: Could it be that the intelligence was wrong, or could it be that the facts were manipulated? These are very serious and grave questions, and they require immediate answers. We cannot - - and must not - - brush such questions aside. We owe the people of this country an answer. Every member of this body ought to be demanding answers.”


To the United States Congress; exactly when will you demand answers from this administration?  It is one of your responsibilities as a body of checks and balances to do so and as you took your oaths of office, you placed your hand on a Bible swearing to uphold the United States Constitution.