October 26, 2011
Obama 'Can't Wait' for the Rule of LawBy Mark J. Fitzgibbons
President Obama's proclamation on Monday that he "can't wait" for congressional action to help underwater homeowners raises two questions.
If he already had the legal authority to take action, then why did he wait?
Some may frame the second question this way: does Obama's plan exceed his constitutional authority? Perhaps the better way to ask the second question is whether the Obama plan is unlawful.
Either way, I can't wait for Congress to conduct some oversight hearings before the plan kicks in. This isn't just a figurative slap in the face to both Congress and the rule of law; this is a kick in the groin.
Ignoring the Constitution is so liberating for Mr. Obama that he intends to do it on a "regular basis." The subtitle to Emily Miller's piece at The Washington Times following the announcement of Obama's "can't wait" plan is "President unveils lawless scheme to bypass Congress with executive orders."
The term "lawless" is sometimes used in common parlance the same way we use "unlawful," but its real meaning is "not subject to, or controlled by, the law."
If we were to deem the president's actions as not subject to, nor controlled by, the law, then we are partly to blame. If we fail to even recognize government lawbreaking when and where it occurs, we get what we deserve.
If, however, we were to take the view that the president's actions are in fact supposed to be governed and restricted by the law, and that Mr. Obama's actions not consistent with the law are therefore unlawful, then we have a chance of preserving liberty. The rule of law protects liberty; abuse of the rule of law erodes liberty.
President Obama and his administration have engaged in years of lawbreaking. Mr. Obama unlawfully used TARP money so that the government obtained ownership interests in Chrysler and General Motors. He ignored the War Powers Act in deploying the military machine to Libya. When Congress refused to pass the DREAM Act, he implemented portions of it via executive order.
His contempt for the rule of law has had a trickle-down effect into federal administrative bureaucracies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board. Even his Department of Justice has shown contempt for the rule of law.
Democratic representatives Jim Moran and Jesse Jackson, Jr. recently urged -- on camera, in fact -- that President Obama implement portions of the Obama jobs bill that never made it through Congress.
These are members of Congress advocating for more lawbreaking because they know they have a president who is willing to break -- indeed, has broken -- the law governing his office and limiting its powers. So much for our system of checks and balances.
They also know that the patsy liberal media don't care about these things unless the unconstitutional lawbreaking is done by Republicans.
The Constitution is broad in its sweep, but is specific about certain functions of government. Congress makes the laws. When Congress doesn't pass a law, the president can't pick up his bat and ball like an angry juvenile.
We are hearing more and more from the left that the president must do administratively what Congress refuses to do legislatively. These are not mere words of frustration. They are words of an ideology that is dangerously inconsistent with American ideals.
The calls from the left to violate the Constitution are protected by the First Amendment. It is when they are implemented by the president that they become lawbreaking. The Constitution, you see, governs government.
Mark Levin on his radio show Monday night played clips of the Obama "can't wait" speech and asked listeners to envision a foreign dictator speaking in English. That was quite an effective way to make the point that in America we don't do the sort of things Obama said he "can't wait" to do.
America will not lapse into a dictatorship; we won't let that happen. But the dictatorial aspects of the Obama administration must be called out for what they are: lawbreaking.
Harry Truman onced claimed that there were emergency circumstances during the Korean War to use his commander-in-chief powers to unilaterally stop a steel union strike. His effort, though, was defeated in the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer case.
Justice Robert Jackson, writing a concurring opinion in the case, said this about claims of unrestricted executive power: "Such power either has no beginning or it has no end. If it exists, it need submit to no legal restraint. I am not alarmed that it would plunge us straightway into dictatorship, but it is at least a step in that wrong direction."
Obama's "can't wait" plan is another example of how the Constitution does not run on automatic pilot. It must be enforced on government.
If Congress responds weakly or passively to this kick in the groin, then they are as much the problem as Mr. Obama.
Mark Fitzgibbons is co-author with Richard Viguerie of the e-pamphlet "The Law That Governs Government: Reclaiming The Constitution From Usurpers And Society's Biggest Lawbreaker."
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