June 9, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 91 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 91
(House of Representatives - June 09, 2016)
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[Pages H3575-H3576] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee) for 5 minutes. Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I am a Member of the United States Congress and a very--I hate to use the term proud, but I am proud to have been a member of the Judiciary Committee for the number of years that I have served in this august place. As I serve, I am well aware of the importance of the Constitution and the very sacred responsibility that we have in protecting it. So I thought that, as a lawyer who has practiced and one who has served as an associate municipal court judge in my hometown of Houston, Texas, it would be important to remind Members of the established three branches of government and the responsibilities that each hold, but focus in particular on the executive--the President of the United States. In Article II, the Constitution, says: ``The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.'' It uses the term that ``he should hold,'' and, in particular, it acknowledges that he or she should take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Article III establishes our judicial power. In particular, with respect to Federal courts: ``all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, under their Authority.'' All of these cases have jurisdiction under our Federal court system. So, the Federal courts and jurists are of keen importance. One would wonder how we establish the need for the rule of law and separation of powers. It came first from 1215, King John's Magna Carta, which indicated that no one should be imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, exiled, or in any way destroyed, except by lawful judgment of his peers and the law of the land. I know that when I sat as a member of the bench, I would look at petitioners and I would hope that even though my history was that of a former slave, being an African American--when I say a former slave, descendants of such; the history of African Americans is such--and I would hope that my background would not have countered the fairness that I would have rendered to anyone who came before me. Judicial independence is something that we hold dear. The Founders understood that judges who are able to apply the law freely and fairly are essential to the rule of law. The Constitution guarantees our rights on paper, but this would mean nothing without independent courts to protect them. That means our judges in the Federal system should not be intimidated or influenced or protected [[Page H3576]] from the influence of the other branches, as well as shifting popular opinion. This insulation is referred to as judicial independence. It allows our Federal judges to make decisions based on what is right under the law, without facing politics, such as not getting reelected; or, personal, such as getting fired or having their salary lowered. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have often joined with the late Henry Hyde, then the chairman, who wanted to raise the salaries of our Federal judges. So I think it is imperative to come before this body, my colleagues, to raise great angst when someone's ethnicity is called out as a reason that they cannot be fair. I am appalled that we have come to this in 2016, where, if I were to symbolically ascend to a Federal bench, or maybe the colleagues who many of us and the Senate have supported and the President has nominated--the diverse bench that represents Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, and women and men, Anglos, Caucasians--anyone would raise a question. I have been before a court and not welcomed the decision. There have been many reasons why I was not pleased with that decision. But I could not raise the question of race. And so I think it is worth condemning that we would have this kind of public discourse where the race of a Federal judge is raised. Remember what I said: judicial independence warrants that we, in fact, cannot intimidate the bench and not, in fact, deny the freedom of the court to decide cases based on facts and the law, not based on public opinion, the views of special interests groups, or even a judge's own personal belief. The right of every citizen to a fair trial is a cornerstone of our democracy. Why should anyone be diminished, and why should the petitioner independently attempt to intimidate based on race? It is appalling. It is absurd. So I ask all of my colleagues, as protectors of the Constitution and people who are here making laws, to independently go out to the highways and byways of life and condemn those words. Need I say who it is? Condemn those words and condemn this kind of discourse. I would offer to say that anyone who has said those words and who pretends to put themselves forward to uphold this Constitution is disqualified and unfit. I would hope that we will have an independent executive under the Constitution, an independent legislative branch, and, of course, an independent judiciary--one of which I respect with the highest of authority. I will close by simply saying I have won cases; I have saved a hospital. I have lost cases. I have been affected by cases in my redistricting and denied the rights of the Voting Rights Act. But I will never undermine and diminish the Constitution for right cases and wrong cases, ever. I ask my colleagues to condemn those actions. ____________________