Today, we celebrate independence. Today, we revel in our freedom. Today, we give thanks that the United States of America is a nation founded on liberty.
Our country was established on the unalterable belief that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” And on this, the 238th celebration of the birth of our nation, we pause to reflect on the greatness of our liberty. But, I am more concerned than ever about assaults on that liberty.
The federal government has defied the civil liberties of innocent Americans by collecting private data. The Internal Revenue Service is accused of identifying and targeting groups who opposed President Obama. The Environmental Protection Agency has consumed nearly 25,000 pages of the Federal Register with new regulations that could destroy businesses from the coal industry to family farms. And, it took the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the Obama Administration from imposing destructive fines on family-owned businesses that simply wish to stand on their beliefs and not be forced to pay for potentially life-ending drugs and services.
Running parallel to these actions is a president who is bragging about his use of unilateral executive actions to bypass the will of the people as exercised through Congress.
In 1788, during the debate over ratification of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison was responding to concerns about the separation of powers. Madison was clear that the issue was one of the most crucial for the new country. He wrote this warning, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
More than 226 years since he penned those words, as we pause to celebrate a nation’s birth in liberty, it is necessary that we reaffirm Madison’s warning as loudly and clearly as possible. The U.S. Supreme Court has done so in recent weeks. The Justices struck down the president’s unconstitutional use of recess appointments, upheld free speech against those who would try to silence the voice of pro-lifers, and stopped a mandate that forced people of good conscience to violate their own religious beliefs.
The U.S. Congress must hold the line as well, continuing to do everything in its power to block and counteract the overreach of the Executive Branch. Our land of liberty must not compromise on this principle. The government, whose first charge is to protect its people’s liberty, must not permit even the threat of tyranny.
May God bless you on this Independence Day, and may he bless and guide all those who serve under our flag to protect our freedoms.
U.S. Congressman John Fleming, M.D., serves Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District.