Congressman James Clyburn's statement on the Wilson resolution

Statement by Congressman James E. Clyburn

Floor of the House-Wilson Resolution of Disapproval

September 15, 2009

This Resolution addresses an issue of great importance to current and future members of this August body, the proper conduct of its members.  Despite statements made by various leaders of the other party, this is not about partisan politics or "inappropriate comments."  To the contrary, this is about the rules of this House and reprehensible conduct.  I stand here as a former public school teacher and the proud father of a current public school teacher who teaches in the Congressional District represented by Congressman Wilson.  My grandchildren attend public schools in that District.

But this Hall is the most prominent classroom in this great country, and all of us are teachers.  We are bound by duty and the offices we hold to conduct ourselves as such.  Classroom teachers and school children across the country and around the world looking in on our proceedings should see proper decorum and hear civil discourse.  Our teachers are expected to teach and our students to learn proper behavior.   All of us are expected to give appropriate support and deference to the institutions that help us develop and maintain a civil and orderly society.

Our three separate branches of government have defined roles to play in this process, and those of us who hold positions within these branches are expected and are duty bound to treat each other with proper dignity and respect.  Whether we like it or not, teachers and students see us as role models.

But none of us is perfect.  We all make mistakes and we sometimes fall short of expectations.  But when we do, proper contrition is expected.  When one of us, while seated in a formal Session, severely violates the rules of this Body, by shamelessly hurling accusations of mendacity towards the President of these United States, our Commander-in-chief, and refuses to formally express remorse, we - at a minimum - are duty bound to express our disapproval.  Our teachers, students and constituents deserve no less.