By Ted La Vaque
President Obama has detached himself from any meaningful compliance with constitutional limits on administrative power and the principle of separation of powers. In his own words to French President Hollande, “The good thing about being president is that I can do whatever I want.” His meaning was not limited to mere protocol violations. He exhibits the same attitude toward legislation passed or not passed by Congress. He chooses which laws he will enforce and those he will ignore. He illegally substitutes executive orders for congressional legislation (“I have a phone and I have a pen”). He is convinced that he is the smartest guy in the room and does not really need information or recommendations from others who are more experienced.
The result is a president gone rogue and who cannot be trusted. He has said that he will act “with or without Congress.” One might think this is simple political rhetoric were it not for the opinions of well regarded legal historians and experts such as Professor Jonathon Turley (Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, George Washington University, a self-confessed liberal academic) and congressman Trey Gowdy, a Republican representative of South Carolina.
Prof. Turley has testified several times before congressional committees concerning the separation of powers in the U.S. political system, and is concerned that Obama has “repeatedly violated this doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration to environmental law.” Congress now appears “feckless and uncertain as to how it can assert its authority when openly circumvented or ignored by a president.”
The result is what Turley describes as a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system. The Legislative and Judicial branches appear inert as the Executive Branch has taken such power. In effect, a fourth branch is being created. Agencies can determine their own jurisdictions, and agency regulations have weight of law without legislative activity by Congress. Think about the recent activities of the IRS in the Tea Party debacle, the illegal activities of the Department of Justice and Fast and Furious, the EPA in the coal mine and Keystone pipeline farce, the blatant usurpation of legislative action extending multiple “waivers” to Obamacare requirements via HHS and who can forget the lies of the Secretary of State regarding the murders in Benghazi?
The Legislative Branch has been rendered impotent by the refusal of the Judicial Branch to exercise its constitutional authority when the Legislative Branch seeks redress by suing the Executive Branch for actions that violate the Constitution. The judicial refusal is based upon the fact that the Legislative Branch “has no standing” for the suit. The party suing must have something to lose in order to sue unless it has automatic standing by action of law.
Enter Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who sponsored the Enforce the Law Act which, when it becomes law, will require the president of the United States to obey the law, giving the House and Senate legal standing to sue the president if they feel he is failing to execute a duly ratified law. One would think that the presidential oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” is sufficient, but it is not for a cynical politician who came into office regarding the Constitution to be a “deeply flawed document” (Obama radio interview Sept. 6, 2001).
The Enforce The Law bill passed in the House 233-181 with five Democrats joining the Republicans. Gowdy said, “The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to write the laws and the Executive the responsibility to enforce them. We don’t pass suggestions. We don’t pass ideas. We pass laws.”
Needless to say Harry Reid will refuse to allow the bill to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, and Obama has already said if it did make it to his desk he would veto it. We may have to wait until 2016 to pass this bill into law unless we are fortunate enough to get a Senate strong enough to over-ride the veto. In the meantime we can only watch the rogue president systematically destroy our constitutional government.
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Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at firstname.lastname@example.org.