Even the President’s political allies are becoming concerned at his unilateralism:
Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned a panel of lawmakers that they “must act” in support of a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for executive overreach or face “self-destruction” as a deliberative body.
Turley appeared as a witness for the House Rules Committee on Wednesday as that panel considered advancing a proposed lawsuit that would check the White House’s recent moves to cut out Congress on issues like health-care reform, immigration and drug policy.
The George Washington University law professor — who supports many of President Obama’s policies but opposes their unilateral implementation — expressed his support for the lawsuit and his belief that Congress, as a coequal branch of government, has the standing to sue to presidency.
“Our system is changing,” he warned, “and this body is the one branch that must act if we are to reverse those changes. We are seeing the emergence of a different model of government, a model long-ago rejected by the framers.”
Turley excoriated lawmakers who he believes won’t stand up for their own rights under the Constitution.
“A dominant presidency has occurred with very little congressional opposition,” he noted. “Indeed, when President Obama pledged to circumvent Congress, he received rapturous applause from the very body that he was proposing to make practically irrelevant. Now many members are contesting the right of this institution to even be heard in federal court.”
“This body is moving from self-loathing to self-destruction in a system that is in crisis,” the law professor charged. “The president’s pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge.
The Founders created a system of checks and balances, placing Congress–the direct representation of the people–as a sort of ‘first among equals’ (note the Executive’s powers are in Article TWO of the Constitution, not Article One…). An institution that once prided itself on rivaling the historic British Parliament as ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body’ has degenerated into partisan preening and little else. Obama is not the first president to test how far he can try to govern unilaterally — but his administration has certainly set a new benchmark for the attempt. The Executive swears an oath to faithfully execute the laws. So what to make of an Executive that decides not to deport ‘dreamers’ (read: illegal aliens), or even to enforce provisions of his own signature legislation (Obamacare) that have proven politically troublesome? If the Executive gets to choose what laws are enforced, what point is there to having a legislature?
But it goes much farther than that. As noted in yesterday’s post, this administration has blocked even the feeble attempts Congress has made to date to investigate smoke and smells coming from all across the Executive Branch: the Department of Justice, the IRS, the EPA, the Federal Elections Commission… the list goes on and on. And when anyone in D.C. points this out, it’s apparent the administration’s attitude is “whadya gonna do about it?” (insert Chicago accent here, since this is nothing more than importing that city’s notorious Godfather-style political machinery to
The gauntlet has been thrown. Thrown, in fact, picked back up, slapped across Congress’ collective face multiple times, and thrown yet again. I agree with Turley that Congress needs to act. But I think it’s long past time for a lawsuit (though perhaps that could be pursued alongside more robust measures). No, Congress needs to assert itself on the basis of the powers the Founders gave it — something difficult to do with the President’s enablers entrenched in the Senate and a bunch of Big-Government-Big-Corporation Republicans (AKA “RINOs”) leading the House.
In a more sane world, the previous vote to hold the current Attorney General in Contempt of Congress would have been accompanied by demands for his resignation or firing… and a zeroing out of that official’s salary until such had taken place.
In a more sane world, Congress would completely defund the IRS as a first step to repealing both the Sixteenth Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act.
Alas, there is no moral courage left in that institution, nor the fortitude to see through any confrontation. Before any such check can be re-instituted in our system, We the People have to play our role as a check, too. It’s time to turn over the entire House and the fraction of the Senate standing for election this year. Not one incumbent should be returned. I realize there are still local darlings, but nobody in that place is indispensable. And there is no better way for the people to reassert the fact that “government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed” than by deliberately tossing Congress out en mass just on principle.
Perhaps an all-Freshman House of Representatives and a Senate full of newbies might find the backbone to reassert Congress’ role on behalf of the people. It might even listen to them, too… what a concept!