When progressive Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer declared last Sunday on CNN that the three branches of government consist of the "House," the "Senate," and the "president," was he really that confused? Or does he have a deep-rooted desire to eliminate the Judiciary from our government's constitutional structure, and this came out of his mouth as a Freudian slip?
Senator Schumer is a Harvard Law School graduate and has been a member of Congress for the past thirty years. I find it difficult to believe he is that dim-witted to absentmindedly forget our federal court system is a branch of the federal government. That leaves the latter explanation, which I believe is a common attitude toward the courts whenever progressives are prevented from reaching their righteous objectives.
John Adams stated that we are "a nation of laws, not of men." But among the progressive (i.e., socialist/communist) regimes throughout history, it has always been about a cult of personality rather than a firm set of principles. The vague concepts of central control of commerce and redistribution of wealth are common themes, but the implementation has always varied dependent upon the man in charge.
The flavors of progressivism under Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao were based solely on autocratic rule, not immutable laws. Now we have the progressive Hugo Chávez, who rules by "decree" rather than follow the Venezuela constitution.
The flexibility required for a despotic ruler or ruling class to completely execute his or their will and enslave a populace is thwarted when the power of the law supersedes any human leader. This is precisely why a rock-solid national constitution is imperative, and why it must be protected at all costs.
This precept has been tested many times in America's history. Pro-slavery, anti-Native American Democrat Andrew Jackson (a progressive precursor) instituted the "Indian Removal Act," forcing Native Americans out of the U.S. and into the territories of the west. When the Cherokee tribe resisted being removed from their lands in Georgia, they took their case to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled against President Jackson, who promptly refused to abide by the decision. Of the chief justice, he said, "John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can."
The forced migration continued unabated, resulting in the deaths of four thousand Cherokees by starvation and disease during the infamous "Trail of Tears."
Progressive President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not a friend of the Judicial Branch. When the Supreme Court invalidated parts of his "New Deal" legislation, he introduced the "Judiciary Reorganization Bill" in retribution. The ultimately defeated bill would have allowed him to select six new justices, who he anticipated would permit him to push through his progressive agenda. FDR told an aide that when "the Chief Justice read me the oath and came to the words 'support the Constitution of the United States' I felt like saying: 'Yes, but it's the Constitution as I understand it, flexible enough to meet any new problem of democracy -- not the kind of Constitution your Court has raised up as a barrier to progress and democracy.'" This sounds a lot like the words of our contemporary president, who as an Illinois senator characterized the Constitution as a "charter of negative liberties," stating that "the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society" and that "I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way."
So what respect does Mr. Obama have for the constitutional rule of law? Let's look at the latest evidence in just the past few days.
This week, Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC won a federal ruling against the Obama administration concerning the legality of its offshore drilling moratorium. Per the Wall Street Journal:
A federal judge Wednesday blasted the Obama administration for "determined disregard" of his order to lift a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling last year. [...]
The drilling halt was first ordered last May after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, in which 11 workers died, and the resulting oil spill. Judge Feldman struck down the initial ban in June, and the Interior Department quickly ordered a second one.
In his ruling, Judge Feldman said Hornbeck was owed the money because the government's conduct amounted to contempt of court.
Earlier last week, federal judge Roger Vinson effectively struck down the ObamaCare health care law on the unconstitutionality of the individual mandate. The Obama administration is already sending out signals that it intends to ignore the decision and continue implementation. The issue is inevitably headed to the Supreme Court. If the Court rules ObamaCare unconstitutional, will Mr. Obama abide by this decision? Bill Wilson, in an Investor's Business Daily editorial, states:
Failure of the Obama administration to stop all activity related to the law that the federal court held to be unconstitutional would create a potential constitutional showdown between the two branches rarely seen in our nation's history. [...]
Ultimately, the rule of law must prevail in this instance. Unless and until Judge Vinson's decision is overturned by a higher court, the federal government must follow it.
Failure to do so would unnecessarily throw our nation into its worst constitutional crisis since the Nixon impeachment. It is up to Obama whether he wants to subject both himself and our nation to that kind of turmoil. For the sake of our nation, let's hope he takes his oath of office seriously, averts a crisis, and follows the law of the land.
Based on Mr. Obama's past history of words and actions, I believe it is unlikely that he will follow the law over his obsession to implement his progressive agenda. If this is the case, when will talk of a "constitutional crisis" turn into calls for impeachment?
As much as I yearn for a speedy end to the Obama administration, it is much more important that our Constitution is protected at all costs, regardless of all political outcomes and against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This does not appear to be a progressive priority.