Our Declaration of Energy Independence

For Americans, the 4th of July is about more than the birth of our country. It’s about the will of the people triumphing over the will of the elite.

It’s a day that celebrates a document, the Declaration of Independence, with a revolutionary premise: Governments are created to secure the God-given rights of citizens, not to grant them their rights. On the 4th of July, we all remember what Ronald Reagan told us, that we are a nation with a government, not the other way around.

This 4th of July, as the price of gas tops $4 a gallon, the will of the people is triumphing over the will of the elite once again. As I write this, over 800,000 Americans have gone to and signed our “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” petition.

Send a Message to Washington This Independence Day – One Million Strong

Our goal for this 4th of July is to have one million Americans sign the petition and send the message to Washington that enough is enough.

While Congress blames everyone but themselves for high gas prices, Americans are hurting.

While foreign dictators receive more and more of our energy dollars, America sits atop proven domestic sources of energy, both conventional and unconventional.

While Washington elites can’t or won’t act, the American people see the first step to a practical, common sense way out of this crisis: Drill here. Drill now. Pay less.

It’s time, this 4th of July, for another declaration of independence – a declaration of energy independence. It’s time to declare our independence from foreign dictators and independence from instability in the supply of affordable energy.

And it’s time to declare our independence from complacency and inaction in Washington.

What You Can Do to Help Chuck Norris and Be a Part of Our Campaign

Maybe one of the reasons for the incredible success of our petition drive is this video. When Chuck Norris tells people to do something, people listen.

Here’s what you can do:

If you haven’t signed the “Drill Here, Drill Now” petition, you can do so here. Our goal is to have a million Americans signed up by the 4th of July.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) is circulating a similar pledge to members of Congress that states: “I will vote to increase U.S. oil production to lower gas prices for Americans.” Here’s the list of those who have signed so far.
On July 4th, attend your local town hall meetings and parades and ask your Representatives and Senators where they stand on acting now to lower gas prices.

Where’s the “Change?” Politicians Put Special Interests Ahead of Kids in D.C.

“Change” is all the rage these days, but this next item is such an egregious example of the special interest, bureaucratic status-quo strangling real change that it should shame every politician who claims to stand for change yet sits passively by while positive change for children is extinguished.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has rescued 1,900 low-income Washington, D.C. kids from one of the worst public school systems in the country.

It does so by giving them annual vouchers worth $7,500 for the school of their choice. This is a bargain for taxpayers, because the D.C. public school system spends fifty percent more – about $13,000 – per child for an education that is far worse.

Low-income parents are flocking to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. More then 90 percent have expressed high satisfaction with it. They use words like “Godsend” and “lifeline.”

Parents Love the Program. Education Bureaucrats Hate It.

But the education bureaucracy and the teacher’s union bosses hate the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Why? Because if school choice can succeed in Washington, D.C. it can succeed anywhere. And if that happens, our public school system will start serving kids instead of bureaucrats.

So to make sure that our public schools don’t start putting students ahead of special interests, some politicians are trying to kill the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program – and they may just succeed.

Amazingly, D.C.’s nonvoting delegate in Congress, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, is leading the effort to deprive 1,900 of her most desperate constituents of the opportunity that is literally saving their lives. She wants to take away the school choice most politicians take for granted. But opposition to the program doesn’t fall strictly along party lines. D.C.’s Democratic mayor supports the program, as does the former mayor, also a Democrat.

An Opportunity for Obama and/or McCain

This travesty of special interest politics represents an enormous opportunity for Senators Barack Obama and John McCain.

Both claim the mantle of change. What could do more to prove they’re serious about reform than to take up the cause of low-income kids about to be sacrificed upon the altar of union bossism?

Here’s what one D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program parent told the Wall Street Journal: “Most of the politicians have choices on where to send their kids to school,” says William Rush, Jr., who has two boys in the program. “Why do they want to take our choices away?”

Senators McCain and Obama should meet with parents like William Rush and learn how this small program – which costs about what the Department of Education spends in half an hour – is changing their children’s lives.

Then they should prove that they’re serious about that word they constantly use – “change” – and work to save this worthy program.

A Decision Which Cannot Be Allowed to Stand

Finally, there has been a lot of commentary about the Supreme Court’s narrowly divided decision last Thursday (Boumediene v. Bush) to allow enemy combatants like those terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

Let me be clear where I stand: This is among the most arrogantly irresponsible Supreme Court decisions in American history and it cannot go unanswered by the other two branches of government. It is an appalling dereliction of duty if the executive and legislative branches fail to explicitly and swiftly reassert their sole dominion over the national security policy of our country.

Congress and the President Need Not Acquiesce to a Tyrannical Court

There is significant precedent in American history for believing that the legislative and executive branches can act to restrict the reach of judicial decisions as well as force the judicial branch into changing its views when they are out of touch with the constitutional values, practices, and traditions of America.

President Thomas Jefferson and the Jeffersonians successfully fought back against the Federalists’ use of the courts to impose their agenda over the will of the people. After the Federalists lost the election of 1800, but before the new Jeffersonian congressmen took office, the Federalists more than doubled the number of federal circuit judges (from seventeen to thirty-five) and packed them with loyal Federalists. The Jeffersonians reacted by simply eliminating all eighteen new federal circuit court judgeships.

President Abraham Lincoln refused to treat the Dred Scott decision, which both declared unconstitutional a federal law that had limited the extension of slavery and that blacks were not citizens under the Constitution, as legally binding on the executive branch. For example, his administration issued U.S. passports to free blacks and signed legislation that placed restrictions on slavery in the federal territories, positions at odds with the Dred Scott decision.

And in June 1942, when German spies who had landed in the U.S. to carry out acts of industrial espionage were captured by the FBI, President Franklin D. Roosevelt acted swiftly to signal to the Supreme Court that he was not going to entertain court intervention. First, FDR issued an executive order on July 2, 1942 that the detainees were to be subject to trial immediately by military commission. FDR also made clear to his attorney general what his reaction would be to any writ of habeas corpus: “One thing I want clearly understood . . . I won’t give them up . . . I won’t hand them to any United States marshal armed with a writ of habeas corpus.” FDR understood the Supreme Court was supreme in the judicial branch but it was not supreme over the other two political branches.

The executive and legislative branches possess clear constitutional powers to check and balance decisions of the judicial branch. The Boumediene decision requires that the executive and legislative branches act to reestablish a constitutional balance among the three branches. I will be writing more about this subject in weeks to come.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — If you missed the opportunity to give my new novel, Days of Infamy, to your dad this Father’s Day, there’s still summer reading to think about. Days of Infamy, as well as the first novel in the Pacific War series, Pearl Harbor, is available here.