One of the many reasons constitutional conservatives consider President Obama a threat to the Constitution is his disdain for the separation of powers, illustrated most recently in his plan to bypass the Senate in making an arms deal with Iran.
The Framers understood that throughout history, the real threat to God-given liberty had been centralized, unchecked governmental power. As such, they crafted our system in a way to limit the consolidation of that power, especially in the federal government.
They did this in a number of ways, including establishing a system of federalism, which divided powers between the federal and state governments. They also specifically enumerated powers granted to the federal Congress and added the Bill of Rights, which expressly restricted Congress’ encroachment on a panoply of individual liberties and also included the ninth and 10th amendments, which reserve powers to the states and the people.
As to the power granted to the federal government, the Framers took further steps to deter its centralization by distributing the functions of government into three coequal branches, the legislative, executive and judicial — known as the separation of powers. They also provided for an intricate scheme of checks and balances among the three branches to guard against expansions of their power.
Throughout his tenure in office, Obama has been exercising powers outside the scope of his constitutionally prescribed executive authority. Democrats have cynically denied his usurpations, saying that he’s just doing what other presidents have done, but his abuses have been different in kind.
He has abused his power with premeditation, announcing early on, through his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, that he would govern through “executive orders and directives to get the job done across a front of issues.” More recently, he has boasted that he has a pen and a phone — tools that will enable him to circumvent legislative authority.
He not only granted virtual amnesty to millions in contravention of Congress’ authority but also created new, substantive rights for the immigrants, from Social Security numbers to driver’s licenses. These rights could have far-reaching and material consequences, such as giving tax credits to millions who have lived here illegally. If that doesn’t outrage you, you don’t have a pulse, or you think the Constitution should have no greater weight than the sheets of paper it can be printed on.
In implementing Obamacare, he granted exemptions and suspended deadlines at his sole whim and even granted federal subsidies to people in states that had not set up an exchange, in direct violation of the law, as his advisers have admitted.
People have probably forgotten by now Obama’s radical czars, whom he appointed to serve with all the power of Cabinet officers but without being confirmed by the Senate. Then there was Obama’s planned defiance of the Senate in moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil — in Illinois — despite the Senate’s having voted 90-6 against such a move. Also, don’t forget his unilateral reversal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members, his Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory end run around Congress to regulate carbon because Congress had refused to pass a cap-and-trade bill, his lawless subordination of secured creditors in favor of his union allies in the Chrysler restructuring scandal, and his defiance of a federal judge’s order invalidating his imperious ban on deep-water drilling. There are many more examples.
Most recently, and quite disturbingly, Obama has signaled his intention to consummate a nuclear arms deal with Iran without so much as conferring with the Senate — much less getting its approval, as required by the Constitution’s treaty clause in Article 2, Section 2.
When asked about this, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, “Ultimately, we can’t put in place an additional hurdle for that agreement to overcome here at the eleventh hour.”
So now the Constitution is merely “an additional hurdle” to these dangerous people? This should alarm everyone in this nation — not just Republicans, not just conservatives.
Obama will argue that he is allowed to do this because presidents have traditionally entered into agreements with other countries without the advice and consent of the Senate, known as “executive agreements.” But he knows — there is zero chance he doesn’t know — that executive agreements have never been used for something so monumentally important as establishing an (as opposed to terminating an existing) arms treaty with another nation — nuclear arms, no less.
Obama full well understands — constitutional scholar that he claims to be — that executive agreements are used to cover matters solely within his executive power or those made pursuant to a treaty or an act of Congress. The Framers were so adamant about presidents obtaining approval in important matters that they imposed a requirement of a supermajority of the Senate for ratification of treaties.
An arms deal with Iran could result in this militant theocracy’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, which would be a dire threat to our national security and that of our allies, especially Israel. No one could pass a polygraph claiming that a matter of such grave importance should simply be written off as minor enough to be handled by executive agreement.
If Obama successfully formalizes such a deal, will there by anything left of this Constitution we all claim to so revere?
If your answer is that “it prevents him from raising taxes,” you may want to think again. Word is that his IRS is preparing to raise taxes on corporations; they call it “closing loopholes.” Please be bold, Congress.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.”