"...the law is the thread that holds the tapestry of this country together. It is the most unifying, equalizing force that we have. It makes the rich respect the poor. It allows the powerless to challenge the powerful. And attempts to undermine the law, Mr. Speaker, regardless of motivation, are detrimental to the social order." Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC
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[Editor's Note: This teleprompter-free, 6 minute, 45 second speech by Trey Gowdy is one of the more powerful and profound orations that you will likely hear in modern times. It's on par with a Gettysburg address when you consider the precision, relevance, and quality of the thoughts being expressed in such a short window of time. This is the speech that elementary and high school teachers ought to be using to impress upon their students the real meaning of a constitutional republic and to understand that without the rule of law, we can have neither liberty nor justice; only disharmony, resentment, and tyranny. It's such a relief to hear a voice of conscience and responsibility speaking from the floor of the House. I can only hope that the shining example of stewardship embraced by this stirring orator will serve as an inspiration to a younger generation of like minded patriots to run for office and to fill the halls of congress with 534 stewards of the Trey Gowdy caliber, a true American ....Ken Adachi]
C-Span, Executive Action on Immigration
Rep Trey Gowdy, R- South Carolina, 4th district Greensville, Spartanburg
March 17, 2016, 8:30AM, PST
mp3 audio file
Speaker of the House: The gentleman from South Carolina is recognized for 5 minutes
Rep. Trey Gowdy: Thank you Mr Speaker.
The issue in this case actually implicates the very existence of the House. The Law is the reason we exist. We do not exist to pass ideas or to pass suggestions. We make law, with the corresponding expectation that that law will be enforced, respected and executed. And we do so because the law is the thread that holds the tapestry of this country together. It is the most unifying, equalizing force that we have. It makes the rich respect the poor. It allows the powerless to challenge the powerful. And attempts to undermine the law, Mr. Speaker, regardless of motivation, are detrimental to the social order.
In 2014, President Obama declared unilaterally that almost 5 million unlawful immigrants would receive deferred action under some tortured definition of "prosecutorial discretion." I can't help but note the word "discretion" means: sometimes you say Yes and sometimes you say No. But. of course, the administration has never said No. The court found not a single time has the administration said No. So that's not prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Speaker - that's lawlessness.
And you may like what the President did. I take it from some of the speakers that they do. And you may actually wish what the President did was actually law.
You may wish, Mr. Speaker. You may wish that when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House for two years, that they had lifted a finger to do a single solitary thing about what they're talking about this morning. You may wish that.
You may wish that all these grandiose policies that we are talking about this morning on the other side. that they cared enough about, to actually make a law when they had the chance. But they did not.
And they know now, that one person doesn't make the law in a Republic.
You may want to live in a country where one person makes the law, but that would not be this country. You would have to look for another one. And the President knows this because more than 20 times. Mr. Speaker. he said he could not do the very thing that he eventually did.
His power didn't change. The law didn't change. The politics is all that changed. And we should have seen this coming, Mr. Speaker. He [Obama] warned us on this very floor. He warned us that he didn't need the People's House. He said he'd do it with or without Congress -- and many of you cheered when he said that. Many of you cheered because you benefit from the non enforcement of the law today.
But tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow is coming.. And tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you will cry out for the enforcement of the law. Tomorrow you will want others to follow the law.
We are here, Mr. Speaker, because this administration violated one law in its haste to allow others to violate yet another law. The administration lost and then they appealed. So here we are before the Supreme Court.
For too long, Mr Speaker, Congress has let the Executive branch engage in Constitutional adverse possession. Today, it's immigration. Tomorrow, it will be some other law. And one day - I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle - one day your party may not control the gears of enforcement. One day, a Republican President might decide that he or she doesn't like a law and is going to ignore it; fail to enforce it.
For more than two centuries, Mr. Speaker, the law has been more important than any political issue. It's been more important than any election. It's been more important, frankly, than any one of us. It binds us together and it embodies the virtues that we cherish ~ like fairness; and equality; and justice; and mercy. And we symbolize our devotion to the law with this blindfolded woman holding a set of scales and a sword. And that blindfold keeps her focus on the law. But I want you to understand this, Mr. Speaker, once that blindfold slips off, it's gone forever.
You can want to put it back on, but it is gone together. Because once you weaken the law -- good luck putting it back together. So once you decide that some laws are worth enforcing, and some are not. Once you decide that some laws are worth following and others are not. You've weakened this thing we call "the law." And you have weakened it forever.
Let me just tell you this; I say this Mr. Speaker: It doesn't take any courage to follow a law you like. That doesn't take any courage. Following a law you like?
What takes courage - which makes us different - is we follow laws even that we don't like! And then we strive to change them - legally. That is the power and the fragility of the Law. But once it is abandoned, it is weakend in the eyes of those we expect to follow it. I'll say this, Mr Speaker in conclusion: In the oath of citizenship that we require new citizens to take --
(Can I have 45 more seconds? )
[Next Rep. agrees to two more minutes.]
Speaker of the House: The gentleman is recognized for two minutes
Rep. Trey Gowdy: Thank You Mr. Speaker
In the oath of citizenship that we require new citizens to take - and I'm sure the Speaker already knows this and perhaps some of my colleagues on the other side may know this as well - but in that oath, it references the law five separate times.
Five separate references to this thing we call "the law" in the very oath that we want new citizens to take.
Five times in a single paragraph.
Good luck explaining why new citizens should follow the law, when those in power do not have to.
Good luck explaining the difference between anarchy and the wholesale failure to enforce the law simply because you do not like it.
Good luck stopping the next President from ignoring a law that he or she does not like.
If the President can pick and choose which laws he likes, then so can the rest of us. And you have undermined the very thing that binds us together. So be careful what you do today.
Tomorrow is coming.
And with that, I would yield back
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