By Geoff Metcalf
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.” –Abraham Lincoln
In the wake of reading an article about President Obama threatening to veto bills that might actually REQUIRE him to the follow the law, it seemed time to jump back into the fray with some very basic Constitutional axiomatic ‘stuff’.
First, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary from mentally challenged congress critters from Texas (and alleged former Con-Law Professors), here are some basics:
1. September 17th, 1787 the U.S. Constitution was signed. That is almost 227 years ago (not 400+).
2. The Constitution does not GIVE us ANYthing.
3. The document recognizes and affirms certain “God given” inalienable rights that no may gave us and no man can therefore take away from us.
4. The Constitution very clearly “enumerates” what specific powers each branch of government has. If the Constitution does not specifically grant rights, power, or authority to any specific branch of government, they don’t have it.
5. Here is a biggie, that sadly too many in power fail to fully recognize except in personal parochial ways: There are three (3) CO-EQUAL branches of government. The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches are three co-equal parts of a whole.
6. At various times in our history, virtually all political parties have tried to muck things up to bastardize the wisdom of the founders.
It is beyond counter-intuitive that this President would threaten to veto a law that would allow Congress to sue in for arbitrarily changing or refusing to enforce federal laws because it “violates the separation of powers”? Hell-o?!?!? The purpose of the proposed bill is to compel the Executive branch to recognize and comply with the separations of powers. Whereas the President claims the proposed bill is “encroaching on his presidential authority”, in reality the bill seems to be a Constitutional protection against the abuse of power under the color of authority by the president.
“[T]he power the bill purports to assign to Congress to sue the President over whether he has properly discharged his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed exceeds constitutional limitations,” according to the White House Office of Management and Budget in a statement of administration policy. “Congress may not assign such power to itself, nor may it assign to the courts the task of resolving such generalized political disputes.”
Actually the courts are required (by the Constitution) to resolve exactly the type of political disputes the OMB says they can’t resolve. It is called “oversight” and an integral part of the checks and balances crafted by the framers to keep each of co-equal branches of government honest, or at least kosher.
The primary sponsor of the measure, Rep. Trey Gowdy, said it was designed to curb Obama’s abuse of presidential authority, especially in the wake of his frequent changes to Obamacare.
Congress makes law, not the Executive. You may recall when Obamacare was jammed through with a partisan bludgeon, opponents ‘tried’ to mitigate the more egregious elements by slowing the process. They even went to court to fix what was broken. The court ruled that the law could not proscribe a mandate, which was illegal. However, they acknowledged that part of the enumerated powers of Congress was to levy taxes and the mandate, was in effect really a tax.
Once the deleterious elements of Obamacare started to manifest, the administration and the Democrats realized they needed to postpone, delay, obfuscate and spin. So the administration started to unilaterally cherry pick specific bad things (and there is a boatload) to kinda/sorta line item veto. The presidents’ actions represent an abuse of power under the color of authority, and a new standard for partisan mendacity.
Gowdy said. “This bill is necessary; it will give Congress the authority to defend this branch of government as the Framers and our fellow citizens would expect.” Turf and territorial imperatives were clearly delineated by the framers.
Obama has also threatened to veto another bill by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., which would require the administration to explain decisions not to enforce laws when those decisions are rooted in policy concerns rather than just constitutional concerns. By the way, the Justice Department is already required to do exactly the same thing. When introducing the bill, DeSantis said, “The American people deserve to know exactly which laws the Obama administration is refusing to enforce and why.”
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah said, “When you look at the quality, not just the quantity but the quality, the nature of the executive orders that he has issued, he (Obama) has usurped an extraordinary amount of authority within the executive branch,” Lee said at the time. “This is not precedented, and I point to the delay — the unilateral delay, lawless delay, in my opinion — of the employer mandate as an example of this. And so, at a minimum, I think he owes us an explanation as to what his legal analysis was.”
In an unrelated matter, Chief Justice John Roberts once noted, “By ensuring that no one in government has too much power, the Constitution helps protect ordinary Americans every day against abuse of power by those in authority.”