The Gohmert Rule

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 15, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, there was a quote from John Adams, as a follow-up to what my friend from Arizona (Mr. Schweikert) was saying. He had great exchanges with his friend, then his enemy, and then his friend again for the rest of their lives, Thomas Jefferson.

John Adams said there are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword; the other is by debt.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my friend for yielding. This will likely be the last speech that I will be able to give from the House floor. I can imagine there are people clapping all over that are watching C-Span.

It has been a tremendous honor to serve in this hallowed body. It just has.

This was not something that I aspired to from my earlier days, and in fact, I really didn't want to be a judge. After my mother got over the disappointment of my choosing not to apply to med school, and then got used to the idea of having an attorney, she ended up, through the eighties, she knew she had a brain tumor that was going to ultimately take her life. They had done what they could at Mayo Clinic in surgery. They could do no more.

She was brilliant. She put herself through Baylor in 2\1/2\ years, while she was working full-time, most of that in the registrar's office.

My brilliant mom taught school as an eighth-grade English teacher for so many years and taught Sunday school for most of her years.

She would say: Louie, you would make a great judge.

I would go: Mother, I don't want to be a judge. There are some lawyers I would hate to sit there and listen to all day. Besides, I make more money than a judge does. I have no interest.

We lost her in January 1991, and after that, I had been thinking about what my brilliant mother used to say. A few months later, I had a judge call me and ask if my female client would go out with him before her trial. It was a civil trial on a breach of contract. I told him, basically, that I couldn't help him, but I knew we needed a new judge.

I tried for months to find somebody that would run against him and talked to all kinds of Republican lawyers that I thought had been considering it. Nobody would step up.

By Thanksgiving--I had to file around the 1st of December--my wife and I both just had this peace that this is what I was supposed to do, is run for judge. So, I did.

As the most politically astute person in our county--Republican, that is--told me the night before the primary election, he said: Nobody gave you a snowball's chance of winning because this guy was the first Republican elected in the county.

In fact, I had Republican leaders that said: Look, we know it is not great, and there are some issues there, but he was the first Republican elected in our county. We just feel like we owe him the job.

Well, nobody is owed a public service job. By Thanksgiving, we had this peace that this is what I am supposed to do, win or lose. I ran and ended up not just squeaking by, as was predicted the day before in a 50/50 chance of winning. I won with 70 percent of the vote.

After years on the bench, I just had this feeling--I applied the law as it was, whether I liked it or not--but that I need to go change some of these laws, try to change some of them.

Then, I had the invitation from Governor Perry to an appointment to be chief justice of the court of appeals there. I thought, well, perhaps this is a way to finish my career on the bench. My wife thought so after we prayed about it, contemplated.

Then, when I finished that term, Governor Perry wanted to provide another appointment to the appellate bench. I said no, I think I am supposed to run for Congress. I did and got elected. I won with 70 to 80 percent of the vote ever since.

What I thought was, this country is in trouble, and maybe I can go help get this country on track. Maybe I can make a difference.

After one term, Newt Gingrich--we lost the majority, November 2006, after I had been here 2 years. I was talking to Newt Gingrich about it. He said: I have heard you. You ought to be on the floor every day talking about these issues. We have 2 hours of Special Orders every day.

I thought, maybe so, and I took it to heart. Since then, yes, I have given a lot of Special Orders, talking about the issues that I think are critically important.

When the Democrats took the majority back, my Democrat friend--I hope that doesn't hurt his re-elect,--John Garamendi said: Louie, we just voted on the new rules of the House and passed the Gohmert resolution.

I said: What does that mean, John?

He said: It means you can no longer have multiple Special Orders in 1 week. You can only have one. That is the new Gohmert rule. Informally, that is what some of us call it because we don't want to hear you every night.

I had told the Cloakroom years ago, look, if nobody is going to take our time to talk about these issues--there is usually not much of anybody around here on the House floor, but as Newt said, you may have 200,000 to 4 million people watch C-Span at different times. You never know how many are going to watch, but you can make a difference if you talk about what is important.

I told the Cloakroom years ago, look, if somebody is not going to take our time, I will get my tie back on and come back over there and take it. So, that is what I have done.

Eighteen years later, this country is in deeper trouble than it was when I got here. I know, having gotten my degree in history, and having never stopped studying history, so many great stories, profound stories, about our history.

I know my daughters have suffered abuse from people because they were my daughters, not that they agreed with me on everything. In fact, we have disagreements. I love them, and I never meant for them to suffer.

Recently, I read a sermon that was prepared by Pastor Tommy Nelson in Texas. There was a Governor, Thomas Nelson, of Virginia, who was a commander back during the Revolution. In 1781, Yorktown is surrounded. General Lafayette comes over and says: General, Governor, where should we fire first with our cannons?

Governor Nelson, General Nelson, he knew that the British command was in his home. They had taken his home. They made it their command center. He told Lafayette: Right there at my house.

There were some, reportedly, that said: We don't want to fire at that. It is your house.

He said: That is where the enemy is. That is where you have to fire.

Cannonball after cannonball went through his home.

The Founders suffered so much, gave so much, many with their lives. You look at the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, they suffered immeasurably. Many of them forfeited their lives for the cause of freedom.

But John Adams, in one of his letters to Jefferson, toward the end of his life, he said: ``The general principles on which the Fathers''-- talking about the Founding Fathers--``achieved independence'' were ``the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.''

John Jay himself, one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, a Supreme Court Justice, our Nation's first Chief Justice, he wrote in his own handwriting: ``The Bible is the best of all books for it is the Word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue, therefore, to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.''

Back to John Adams. He said: ``The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.''

Boy, he was so astute and wise.

He said: ``Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes, and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure.''

It is so true. He saw what happens even in the few democracies or republics that have ever existed. I think ours is not just a republic, but a form of democratic republic where we elect our representatives instead of like ancient Greece, Athens, where they actually had everybody participate in the big decisions.

I do have a heavy heart. I see what is going on. We had a hearing today regarding mass shootings, witnesses from Sandy Hook, from Uvalde, and they are saying we have to get rid of the guns, like getting rid of spoons would get rid of obesity.

The problem is not with our Second Amendment right. It is exactly what John Adams pointed out. He said: ``We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.''

Then he said: ``Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.''

Our problem is very clear to me. It is not with weapons. It is with the lack of morality. It is exactly what President Adams said over 200 years ago. He saw it. If you are not teaching children that there is absolute right and wrong--there may be gray areas. There are, as every lawyer would tell you. But there are some absolutes that are right or wrong.

Those of us who believe the Bible, God made clear that the children of Israel were to teach their children: Keep the verses of scripture all around all the time, put them on your doorposts. And I knew that; I had seen the scripture.

But the first time I was at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, I said, What are these little tubes on the door?

Well, they were verses of scripture. They took it literally.

You need to have those verses everywhere. Teach your children. And we have not done that.

So after people like Bill Ayers, Weather Underground, violent hippies, after they had tried to push us into a Marxist country or make us one and they had no success whatsoever, the violence didn't help, they realized the way to go is to go into the universities, get tenure, and in the meantime be teaching future teachers that Marxism is a good idea. Whether you call it socialism, progressivism--not change the name, call it progressivism. It is still Marxism.

But as Dostoevsky said in response to this nut named Marx in the 1800s, The problem with Marxism is not economic. We know that is a huge problem. It is always going to fail. But the problem with Marxism is atheism because the government has to become God. That is what he was meaning. That has, for so many people, become God.

I came here thinking, gosh, if we could just get enough Members of Congress to stand up for what is right and preserve our freedom--I ultimately have realized, Congress--as upset as people are at Congress, and we rate very poorly in the polls--Congress is a reflection of this country. You don't like what is going on in Congress, well, it is a reflection of what is going on in the country.

This House is the only elected body that I am aware of in the whole country where you can only get there by being elected. If a Senator leaves or dies, they can be appointed or elected, either one, but normally appointed to fill until the election. This body, you can't get in here as a Member unless you have been elected.

Adams said, ``Cities may be rebuilt and a people reduced to poverty may acquire fresh property, but a constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the people once surrender their share in the legislature and their right of defending the limitations on government and of resisting every encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.''

If we want Congress to be better, the country has got to become better, because we are headed toward Marxism. Many realize that. If you looked at the original Black Lives Matter--and it was never about Black lives. It was about moving toward Marxism. One of their tenets--they took it off. One of their goals was eliminating western-style marriage.

Western-style marriage? We don't have western-style marriage.

Moses said God told him a man shall leave his father and mother, a woman leave her home, and the two will become one. That is marriage. It was for procreation of the Nation of Israel and for the people. And civilizations that lasted have based their growth on that societal building block, the family.

Then you had Jesus. When asked about marriage, and particularly divorce, He quoted Moses verbatim: A man shall leave his father and mother, a woman leave her home, the two will become one flesh. And He is the one who added, and let what God has joined together, let no one put asunder, or separate.

But this body, just this month, we come in here, now that we have a majority that is much wiser--it is a bipartisan majority that is wiser than Moses and Jesus--said no, no, no, we will tell you what marriage is.

So churches that supported that, they are going to find out you either become woke or the United States Government is going to come destroy your entity, church, or school. That is where we are heading. Perhaps the Supreme Court will protect us. Maybe it won't.

But I still hear Justice Scalia. We were having lunch, and he said, you guys have the ultimate power. You can stop anything. You have got the power of the purse. You don't like something; you can kill it. Just cut off all the funding. So don't come running over across the street to us just because you don't have the nerve to do what you think should be done. Come run to us? You didn't do what you have got the power to do.

We haven't done that. Easier to hope maybe the Supreme Court will take care of it.

Adams also said, Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never democracy or a democratic republic yet that did not commit suicide.

He said, Be not intimidated nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery, and cowardice. I mentioned this when I was reading Tommy Nelson's sermon.

But Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s and 1840s, he said: ``Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.''

He talked about our Founders. Forget 1619 or whatever. He says--he is talking about the Founders. They brought with them a form of Christianity. Yes, some people pushed slavery. But Thomas Jefferson, in that original Declaration of Independence, one of the grievances was against King George for ever allowing slavery to get started, because he saw the damage it was doing to America and to the people that were involved.

But Alexis de Tocqueville said about our Founders: ``They brought with them . . . a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion. . . . from the earliest settlement of the immigrants, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved''--until recent history. He didn't live to see what is going on now.

Look, some of us get beat up. We do believe a woman has every right and should make all the decisions concerning her body. She does. She should. That is the way it should be. She has every right to make decisions for that unborn child that she is carrying. But if a decision is made to kill that other body, that is normally when government gets involved, because we are supposed to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Some people continue to try to say, gee, we didn't see Christianity mentioned in the Constitution. Of course, the Declaration of Independence mentions our Creator and also nature's God. But actually if you look at the way the Constitution was signed, it was signed ``In the year of our Lord 1787.'' Yeah, that is the way they dated it. I mean, it is amazing. Some people say it is unconstitutional to sign anything with that date if it is government. Well, if it is signed like the Constitution is signed, I don't see how it could be unconstitutional.

But there was the First Presbytery of the Eastward, a group of clergy from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and they wanted Christianity to be mentioned in the Constitution. They wrote a letter and they declared that as they see, because of Washington's piety and his support for Christian morality--which really is Judeo--but that morality that they see, means we are in good hands.