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US Capitol Government - What does a legislator owe you?

During the immigration bill debate held in June 2007, United States Senator Arlen Specter defined his response to citizens,
on both sides of the issue, who had contacted their senators regarding his Comprehensive Immigration Bill.

Mr. SPECTER. "…, try to find a way to improve a very serious situation in immigration.

No one of us is able to speak for the American people. We hear different voices at different times. I know one thing with relative certainty, and that is you cannot tell what the American people think simply by those who object and those who call. We do not run America in a representative democracy, in a republic, by public opinion polls. If we did, we would take the public opinion poll and we could dispense with all of the fat salaries that Members of Congress get. We could dispense with paying 535 people and take a public opinion poll and sign it into law.

I think the most erudite statement on this particular issue was uttered by a distinguished British philosopher politician, named Edmund Burke, in a speech to the electorate of Bristol on November 3, 1774, when he made this famous statement:

"Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment;
and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

Mr. SPECTER continues .. "Now, that is not to say in a representative democracy we ought to not consider the opinions of our constituents, but I think Edmund Burke was right more than 200 years ago when he talked about our duty in owing our constituents our best judgment." from S8648 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD 110th —SENATE June 28, 2007.

What is Senator Specter actually saying?


What do you think? Should a legislator use his/her judgment?


Should legislators listen to the input of their constituents?


Select an issue currently being considered in government.
Does your legislator's votes mirror the opinion of the majority of her/his constituents?


Should a legislator “sacrifice his opinion” to yours?


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posted 7/2007 In the spirit of Thomas Paine - released to public domain by Cynthia J. O'Hora

Aligned with the following Pa Academic Standards - Reading, Writing Speaking, History, Civics and Government, Mathematics, Civics, Science and Technology
Aligned with the National Standards for Civics and Government

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