Turley: 'The President's Power Grab'

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, is considered liberal enough to appear on the cable nets whenever a reliable left wing view is needed.

But he also has great respect for the constitution's separation of powers and he has been warning for years about the growing power of the executive branch at the expense of Congress and the Courts.

His Op-Ed in the LA Times today nails it:

The United States is at a constitutional tipping point: The rise of an uber presidency unchecked by the other two branches.

This massive shift of authority threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system of checks and balances. To be sure, it did not begin with the Obama administration. The trend has existed for decades, and President George W. Bush showed equal contempt for the separation of powers. However, it has accelerated at an alarming rate under Obama. Of perhaps greater concern is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, in the face of expanding executive power.

James Madison fashioned a government of three bodies locked in a synchronous orbit by their countervailing powers. The system of separation of powers was not created to protect the authority of each branch for its own sake. Rather, it is the primary protection of individual rights because it prevents the concentration of power in any one branch. In this sense, Obama is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he has become the very danger that separation of powers was designed to avoid.

A glance at recent unilateral moves by Obama illustrates how executive power has expanded, largely at the cost of legislative power.

Turley lists 7 of the 37 unilateral changes made by the president in the implementation of his healthcare law. He then gets to the heart of the matter:

I happen to agree with many of the president's policies. However, in our system, it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies and presidents change. Democrats will rue the day of their acquiescence to this shift of power when a future president negates an environmental law, or an anti-discrimination law, or tax laws.

To be clear, President Obama is not a dictator, but there is a danger in his aggregation of executive power.

Our system is changing in a fundamental way without even a whimper of regret. No one branch in the Madisonian system can go it alone — not Congress, not the courts, and not the president. The branches are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers, for better or worse. They may deadlock or even despise one another. The founders clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period.

Whatever problems we face today in politics, they are of our own making. They should not be used to take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for more than 200 years.

If there's one thing positive to be said for Ted Cruz and his allies on the Hill, it is that they are the only ones in the GOP taking this presidential power grab as it should be taken - as a challenge to the separation of powers. Others in the estbalishment appear to see the aggregation of executive authority under Obama as a political issue to be exploited for electoral purposes.

The only way to resolve this budding constitutional crisis is in the courts. Unfortuntaely, for individual acts of lawlessness, standing becomes an issue. And Congress just doesn't have the legal standing to challenge the president's power grabs.

Add to that, the historic reluctance of the courts to intercede in fights between the legislative and executive branches, and you can see the difficulty in pursuing a court case against Obama.

Congress can exert its authority, but with Demcoratic lap dogs running the Senate, nothing would pass. Harry Reid cares more about the fortunes of the Democratic party than he does the Constitution.

If the GOP can take control of the Senate, this may change. Until that happens, President Obama will continue to run roughshod over the separation of powers because he doesn't have the competence or the patience to get what he wants any other way.