The U.S. Constitution has no Teeth
As the Obama Administration works around the Constitution and performs thousands of acts that are in direct defiance of constitutional law and established legislative practice, the emerging issue is that it does not appear to be a crime to defy the Constitution.
The U.S. Code, the list of Federal laws, has many laws that can be used in Federal court to take employers to court, for example, for discriminating against minorities, or violating the voting rights act. But with regard to purely Constitutional issues, such as the First Amendment violations of the IRS, there doesn't seem to be any teeth in the Constitution. There is no codified way to fight these abuses.
When Lois Lerner violated the free-speech rights of campaign groups, she was not cited for committing any crime: she did not receive as much as a twenty-dollar ticket. The EPA can hand a farmer a ten-thousand-dollar fine for spilling pesticides too close to a wetland, but the Congress cannot fine the IRS managers or the White House for the role they played in violating the First Amendment. The basis of the idea that the IRS violated the First Amendment is the Supreme Court ruling that campaign contributions are a form of free speech.
Lois Lerner was arguably the greatest violator of the First Amendment in history, interfering with both state and national elections, yet her punishment was to be encouraged to "retire" and she is expected to receive a pension of $102,000 a year, giving a lifetime retirement income of $3.96 million dollars, paid for by the taxpayers whose First Amendment rights she violated. And the IRS stated it couldn't comment further on her situation, due to federal privacy rules. So Lerner violated IRS rules and the Constitution and is protected by her Federal union rules. The public sector unions and bureaucracies are a shadow government; they decide whose rights can be violated and they are protected by their bosses, as the IRS has covered up for Lois Lerner.
Similarly, another weakness of the Constitution was exploited by President Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder misled Congress regarding the administration's role in the Fast and Furious gunrunning issue. After Holder refused to answer questions adequately or produce requested documents, Congress cited Holder for being in contempt of Congress, yet history shows that this does not result in a criminal punishment.
Other violations of the Constitution are found in the rejection and flouting of established procedures and practices. These are seen particularly with regard to how the Obama administration deals with the House. Lisa Lerner took the Fifth Amendment when she was testifying before Congress, yet gave a statement in defense of her actions as she took the Fifth. Previous Congressional committees had established the precedent that if the Fifth Amendment is taken by a witness, then the witness can say nothing, not even their name and address. They must remain totally silent. But Lerner gave a short speech before taking the Fifth, something that is not allowed under standard Congressional procedure. President Obama sees the House, since it is controlled by Republicans, as enemies that have to be neutralized.
So there are two ways that the Obama Administration openly defies the Constitution: direct defiance as in denying Tea Party campaign organizations of their tax exempt -- free speech -- status, and these work-arounds such as Lisa Lerner's misuse of the Fifth Amendment that defy standard procedures. The lack of an official Federal budget passed by the House, Senate, and signed by the president, is also a defiance of the Senate's required duties under the Constitution.
The recent shutdown of the Federal government is an attempt by the House to reassert its Constitutionally-mandated duty to pass a budget. It is attempting to force its way back into the legislative process, something it has been denied by the Obama administration. The Senate, controlled by the Democratic Party, has persistently refused to pass a budget for over four years. By doing so it has taken control of the budget away from the House. As a result House Committees have no say in where the money is being spent or in how much is being spent.
This is perhaps the only strategy the House has left to reestablish itself as a viable branch of the Federal government.
While President's Obama's refusal to compromise with the House may be unconstitutional, there is no legal way to force him to meet with Speaker Boehner. The Constitution was written by men who expected presidents to adhere to the general rules, but it turns out that President Obama has sought to expose a weakness in the Constitution; that the Constitution only requires voluntary cooperation. Since in his view he is not breaking any laws -- only the Constitution -- he is taking advantage of the fact that the Constitution has no teeth, no enforcement mechanism, other than the integrity of the people who hold positions in government. It cannot be argued that the president does not understand the Constitution since he taught Constitutional Law at the U. of Chicago Law School, one of the nation's best. And Harry Reid certainly knows how things were done on the Hill before Obama arrived.
This is a manifestation of President Obama's autocratic style of rule. He clearly does not feel any compulsion to obey the guidelines of the Constitution or the institution of the House. In the final analysis President Obama's willingness to flout both the Constitution and the standard procedures of legislation are not caused by any flaws in the nature of the Constitution. Rather, President Obama is making his own choices and taking advantage of the Constitution's reliance on a president who has respect for the Constitution and the integrity to adhere to tradition.