Dear “Patriot” Try Reading the 14th Amendment, Section 4

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What if all those “patriots” who claim to love and adore the Constitution, and want to default on our debt ceiling and debut are actually violating the Constitution?

What then?

Have you paid any attention to the 14th Amendment, Section 4?

“…Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void….”

The Hill

Well…. it’s like this:

“...Section 4 confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt legislated by the Congress. It also confirmed that neither the United States nor any state would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. For example, several English and French banks had lent money to the South during the war. In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that voiding a United States government bond “went beyond the congressional power” on account of Section 4…”

I found a fascinating little piece in the Political Wire:

Political Wire

Garrett Epps wrote:

“…I want to explain to you the origin of Section Four. After the Civil War, political leaders in the defeated South announced their intention of resuming their seats in Congress and of using their power–augmented by increased Congressional representation for the freed slaves–to compel the federal government either to pay off all debts of the Confederacy or to default on the national debt which had been borrowed to finance the Union war effort. They also intended to present to the nation a huge bill for what they claimed was the value of the slaves that had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment.

For this reason, the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment wrote into our fundamental law an absolute prohibition against defaulting on the national debt. Its language establishes a complete firewall against the misuse of governmental power by one political faction to get its way by wrecking the public credit. Only one other provision of the Constitution–the Thirteenth Amendment’s categorical prohibition on slavery–is as rigid as the language of Section Four. That language is not binding only on Congress, but on all parts of the government, including the executive branch.

For nearly a century and a half, the absolute language of the Fourteenth Amendment was not even questioned. I regret to say, however, that today our nation faces exactly the threat Section Four was designed to guard against. A vocal and determined political minority–what our great Founder James Madison would have called a “faction”–is determined to use its dominance in one House of Congress as a weapon to circumvent the democratic process. It wants to find a back-door way to undo programs and policies that have been democratically enacted over a 75-year period. It wants to impose a narrow vision of government and America that has been rejected by our people repeatedly over the same period.

This determined minority is now prepared to defy the Constitution to get its way. Some of its voices have begun to say that national default would be welcome, even if it wrecks our international credit and leads the U.S. to default not only on its bonded obligations but on the debts due to its armed forces in the field–debts that are even more sacred than “pensions and bounties for services” already performed by veterans in previous wars. Indeed, I am convinced that the only reason why the framers of Section Four did not explicitly include “payments to military personnel in the field during congressionally authorized military action” is that it was literally unthinkable even to the most hardened partisans among them that any faction within the United States Congress would countenance cutting off payments to those who carry our flag in foreign nations under hostile fire….”

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3 thoughts on “Dear “Patriot” Try Reading the 14th Amendment, Section 4

  1. I wish I understood this subject better. I get the big picture but hesitate to say anything else due to my ignorance.

  2. As I read the 14th amendment; Congress needs to vote on all new debt. At present, congress has delegated that authority to Treasury. It is time Congress takes back that responsibility and vote on all new bond issues. Only raise the debt limit by voting for a new bond issue.

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