Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has been making headlines with his comments on the Senate floor. Calling citizens liars, acting on behalf of the Koch brothers was round one, followed by a denial that he’d ever said that.
While generally despicable, this sort of commentary from Reid is not uncommon. Some might explain it away by pointing out that he’s getting old, and has been in Washington for too long. This sort of situation definitely makes a case for term limits, however that’s a debate for another time.
No, perhaps it is time to revisit a time-honored portion of the Constitution that Senators and Representatives have enjoyed — arguably has kept quite a few, like Reid, from facing legal issues over statements they have made.
Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution protects them from facing legal action for statements that they make on the floor of either house. While it’s idealistic to think that the Framers intended this to prevent problems arising from unintentionally erroneous statements, that probably wasn’t the case. Even then, politics was a blood sport, so they wanted the freedom to beat each other verbally without any restrictions against lying about each other — or the public.
Reid, if one does not buy senility or insanity as an excuse, has been trying to elevate this practice of fibbing on the floor to an art form. His latest target was fellow member Tom Coburn, and Reid definitely is reaching for new depths with this one. Coburn is a medical doctor and is battling cancer.