Nearly five years ago, I wrote about the extra-Constitutional practice of Executive “signing statements.” That appears now to have been merely a warm-up for the usurpation of all significant legislative power by the Executive branch:
As with other Obama decisions to ignore parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, not prosecute medical marijuana, and allow some states to opt out of No Child Left Behind provisions, the immigration order became perhaps the boldest decision yet by a president seeking reelection, critics say, to ignore laws passed by Congress in order to achieve a political objective, setting a troubling precedent for the power of the presidency.
In some ways, it’s part of the evolution of an “imperial Presidency,” a term used by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. to describe Richard Nixon’s challenges to traditional checks and balances. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, also used a broad definition of presidential power to issue so-called signing statements where he declared parts of new laws unconstitutional and thus unenforceable by the commander-in-chief.
But whereas Bush reserved most of those powers for issues of national defense in wartime, Obama has expanded the president’s power into issues that are live wires in America’s political and cultural battlefields – gay marriage, marijuana, education, immigration – while reshaping the powers of the Oval Office in his wake. At some point, critics say, the question becomes: Who can check the President?
“This isn’t about immigration but about constitutional order,” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative-leaning think tank. “One problem is that even Democrats in Congress now have no right to complain about future usurpations – they might as well all go home and have Napoleon run the country.”
This is not governance or the rule of law. This is law becoming centered around the whim of the one person who happens to reside in the White House. It’s the culmination of decades of dangerous trends–instigated by both ‘parties’–that went unchecked, and has now become nothing short of a revolution. We now have an Executive branch that reserves the right to decide which laws are worthy of enforcement, while at the same time asserting the right to target citizens for assassination with no outside review, due process or legal recourse. The fact so many Americans consider these as positive examples of ‘bold leadership’ merely shows how accepting we’ve become of imperialism, both at home and abroad. If such grabs aren’t enough for Congress to initiate impeachment for failure to uphold the Constitution, then our Senate needs to relearn an old greeting:
Ave… ave Imperator…