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Show: Freedom Watch
Host: Judge Andrew Napolitano
Judge Napolitano: Speaking of the fidelity to the Constitution, with us are two members of the House of Representatives who are among the greatest defenders of the Constitution in Washington today. Congressman John Duncan of Tennessee and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, welcome. In this country during crises does the rule of law still apply to, say, big oil companies, Congressman Paul?
Ron Paul: Well, let’s hope so, but sometimes you wonder about it. I don’t think the president is as concerned about the rule of law as some of us. But for him to just claim that he can close down all the oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is an outrage. But it is rather symbolic of where we are today and that is, presidents just do executive orders. Matter of fact, this commission he set up, that I’m not too happy with, wasn’t even an executive order, it just appears. And the Congress just goes along with it. It’s that kind of stuff that governments are really out of control.
But the good side of this is the American people are waking up, and that’s what this freedom movement is all about. People have had enough of it, but they don’t seem to be getting the message here and maybe it will take November for them to get the message. So I’m hoping that that will happen, that the American people will keep the pressure on Washington. And with the bankruptcy of this country staring us in the face, I think the American people are going to get even more concerned.
Judge Napolitano: Congressman John Duncan, earlier last week your colleague from Texas, Congressman Barton, said that the president perpetrated a shakedown when he intimidated 20 billion dollars out of BP: just cough it up so that a political appointee could distribute it. Do you agree with that characterization?
John Duncan: Well, first of all, Judge, let me tell you that I was a judge for 7 and a half years in Tennessee and I’ve always admired the great work achieved, and I was pleased that this judge in Louisiana ruled that there was no evidence to support the president’s moratorium. I’m not going to defend BP and I know that our legal system will make them pay for everything that they are responsible for. But I have said in a speech on the House floor last week that we shouldn’t let environmental radicals who, I’ve noticed, always seem to come from very wealthy or very upper-income families, shut down our entire economy. They oppose drilling for any oil, digging for any coal, cutting any trees, producing any natural gas and they’re hurting a lot of poor and lower-income and working people in this country by destroying jobs and driving up prices. And that’s my main concern.
Judge Napolitano: Congressman Paul, Congressman Duncan makes a good point. But when someone defends BP’s right to due process, its right not to have the government intimidate 20 billion dollars out of them, that is not a defense of BP’s behavior in the Gulf, is it? BP should pay for all the damage it caused, but it should pay for it under the law, not under some ad hoc system that the president and the vice president just concocted for this crisis.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and this is what’s so bad about our system. You know, if you take the position that you defend the rule of law and it sounds like you’re defending BP, then the entire country jumps on you. The political system, they jump on Joe Barton and they jump on everybody. But that’s an issue of political correctness. What if he would have used the word “pressure”? “Yeah, he twisted his arm a little bit and made them do this”. And all of a sudden you could check with the PC police and see if you could say that. But this is really a problem. They just jump on this and they won’t look at things on the merit. So if you defend the Constitution and rule of law and it sounds like you’re giving some rights to BP, that doesn’t mean that we’re sympathetic to BP. We’re sympathetic to the system.
And it may well be that the 20 billion dollars might even limit the scope of what BP has to pay. What I don’t like is big business and big government being in bed together, and for some reason I’m very suspicious of some of these agreements because BP is not a free market company. I mean, they depend on our military and they depend on us and they like Cap and Trade. So I’m very suspicious of the whole mess.
Judge Napolitano: Congressman Duncan, you have rightly pointed out that the president was motivated by his desire to please the extreme environmentalist when they closed down the Gulf. And you were right to point out that Judge Feldman in Louisiana said he doesn’t have the authority to do it. What do you fear the president might do next as a consequence of this crisis in the Gulf?
John Duncan: Well, he’s the most far-left wing president that we’ve ever had in the history of this country. And I can tell you that we don’t have a far-left nation. I agree with everything that Congressman Paul just said. I don’t like this extremely big business, big government duopoly in which the main people that benefit from big government are the bureaucrats who work for the government and extremely big business.
But we have to realize, I love clean air and clean water as much as anybody, and I’ll tell you, though, that only in a free market, free enterprise system can you generate the excess funds to do the good things for the environment that people want done. And if we let this Air Club and some of these other organizations and the president take us so far to the left that we totally socialize our economy, we will destroy our economy and will greatly reduce our standard of living, and we don’t need to do that and our people don’t want us to do that.
Judge Napolitano: Congressman John Duncan, Congressman Ron Paul, fortunately we still have courageous federal judges who will uphold the rule of law and the constitution, as Judge Martin Feldman did earlier this week in New Orleans. Thanks very much for joining us, Gentlemen.
John Duncan: Thank you.
Ron Paul: You’re welcome.