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Congressional Progressives Get Behind Constitutional Progressives

Monday, September 26, 2011

On Friday, September 23, 2011, Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, released a "Dear Colleague" letter urging his fellow Members of Congress to reaffirm their oath to support the whole Constitution. The letter brings additional support for the newly-launched Constitutional Progressives initiative and provides a fitting capstone to Constitution Week. Nine other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-signed the letter: Co-Chair Keith Ellison (D-MN), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Danny Davis (D-IL), Bob Filner (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

In the letter, Rep. Grijalva and his co-signers declare themselves "Constitutional Progressives" and push back against partisan attempts to undermine the Constitution and distort it into a tool of partisan warfare. In addition to condemning the wave of inflexible ideological pledges that seek to tie Congress's hands, the letter reminds Members of Congress that their "sole binding pledge" is the one they took to uphold the Constitution when they entered office.

The letter also expresses alarm at the recent spate of unfounded attacks on the constitutionality of Social Security, Medicare, and other established federal programs. Rep. Grijalva and his fellow Congressional Progressives reject this warped view of federal power and decisively state that the Constitution "empowers Congress to solve national problems, including health care." In addition to recognizing the broad federal powers established by the Constitution, the Congressional Progressives also celebrate the fact that "the Constitution as it stands today is a better document than the unamended Constitution ratified in 1789." Unlike some politicians who seem intent on dragging America back to the 18th Century, Rep. Grijalva and his fellow Congressional Progressives realize that more than 220 years and 27 Amendments have taken us on a path of constitutional progress toward "a more perfect union."

We applaud Rep. Grijalva and his colleagues for their efforts to restore respect for the whole Constitution, and urge other members of Congress to join them in reaffirming their oath of office.

By Ryan Woo, Research Associate for Constitutional Accountability Center