Syndicated columnist Jules Witcover, on your op-ed page, recently touted President Barack Obama’s potential use of the United States Constitution (14th Amendment) to force Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

The 14th Amendment specifically authorizes only Congress to enforce the amendment, not as Witcover argues, President Obama. Therefore Witcover’s argument that the president use the amendment to force the debt ceiling to be raised is patently wrong. But his knowledge of the Constitution is less alarming than President Obama’s.

The president, a purported lecturer on the Constitution, called for multiple violations of it in the White House brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Texas’ pending execution of Humberto Leal Garcia for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1994. The first violation was in sending a brief to the Supreme Court on a case that is not up for the Court’s consideration. The Supreme Court cannot hear the case or issue any stay because the legal appeals have been filed and denied with full due process. The White House has no standing with the court.

Second, the prosecution and execution of Garcia is under the police powers of the state. Powers not specifically granted to Congress stay with the states or the people under the 10th Amendment.

Third, the Supreme Court has upheld the states’ death penalty laws and cannot interfere unless the court is asked to review a “case or controversy.” This case has been appealed and denied multiple times by the state of Texas and the federal appeals courts over 17 years.

Fourth, there is no international treaty against the death penalty, only against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Execution by injection is not any of these things.

Finally, the president has called on Congress to pass a law that prohibits the death penalty for foreign nationals. To apply such a law in this case years after the trial and conviction of Garcia violates the Constitution’s Article 1 ban on ex-post facto laws.

John Hartling

retired lawyer

Baton Rouge