Sean Ray | Asst. A&E Editor
Forty-seven Senators, all of them Republicans, recently sent a letter to Iran amongst on-going negotiations between President Obama and Iran about the latter’s ever-developing nuclear program. The letter warned the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei that any agreement with President Obama would not last into the next presidency and lectured Khamenei on U.S. government policy.
The letter has become extremely controversial, USA News saying the letter “takes efforts to undermine Obama’s credibility to a new level.” There exists a petition on the White House’s website calling for the 47 Senators to be tried as traitors for violating the Logan Act, a law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with any nation the U.S. is having a conflict with.
As diplomacy with foreign nations is usually the role of the president, not senators, it does seem that the 47 senators have violated the act. However, it is very unlikely any of them will be tried. While the petition has reached more than 100,000 signatures, having 47 of our 102 senators dragged into a court debate might just slow government down even more than it is now.
However, this does not mean those 47 senators should get off completely scot free. While the legality of the letter is debatable, the sheer act of disrespect to not only President Obama, but the office of the presidency itself, is completely deplorable.
It is fairly common knowledge that the U.S. government is built around a system of checks and balances. Certain branches have certain powers that the others do not. By going around the president, whose job it is to talk to foreign governments and represent the United States abroad, and talking to Iran directly, the 47 senators have vastly over stepped their bounds and set a very dangerous precedent for Congress.
Furthermore, there are the implications set by the letter itself. Politicians create precedents by their actions, for better or for worse. Government takes an active role in the economy and job creation because of a precedent set by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Now, what precedent is set by this letter? That if a congressman does not agree with the president, it is completely okay to go around them and seize more power in order to oppose them. Congressman should not be talking to foreign governments, which is the job of the president, as set forth by the Constitution.
I would implore readers, do not look at this as an issue of whether or not you agree with president Obama’s diplomacy of Iran. It is fine if you think the president should not be talking to Iran, or if you believe the talks will go nowhere. Even still, the actions of the 47 senators should be recognized as dangerous and bad governing.
Despite my firm belief that the 47 senators will not be tried, I signed the petition to have them tried for treason. Not because I think it will actually occur, but because I want congress to know I do not appreciate them over stepping their bounds and disrespecting the leader of the free world. I would do the same thing if the Supreme Court created a law, or if the President declared a law unconstitutional via judicial review. Branches of government have clear and defined powers they should stick to and not go outside of.
It is time politicians understood that disrespect and over stepping of one’s role is not to be accepted in government and should absolutely be deplored. This is an issue that transcends party politics and affects the future of government if we are to set a good example for the future.