A long time ago, in a different life, I used to fly airplanes for a living (the good old days). I remember an FAA inspector whose favorite saying was that if your manual said you were to land gear up, he expected to see the airplane on the runway gear up. In other words, he would not accept any difference between what was written in the company manuals and the way the airplanes were actually operated.
Our country also has an operations manual and we call it the United States Constitution. It is the law of the land and the legal instrument that specifies how our country shall be governed. Our Constitution was set up with three co-equal branches of government: The legislative branch to make the laws, the judicial branch to interpret our laws, and the executive branch to manage the government.
When the President assumes office, he takes an oath which is contained in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and states:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The President’s duties are further described in Article II, Section 3, which states that the President, “…shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….”
Presidents have long found a way to get around legislation they did not like. The Presidential signing statement goes back to the 5th President of the United States, James Monroe, in March 1831. However, there is no reference to signing statements anywhere in the Constitution.
On September 6, 2001, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was participating in a panel discussion that aired on Chicago’s WBEZ-FM, titled “Slavery and the Constitution” when he first talked about “previously dispossessed people” and then “redistribution of wealth.” He then went on to state: “…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf….”
On October 12, 2008, while running for President, then Senator Obama encountered Joe Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber), and talked about redistribution stating: “..I’m going to cut taxes a little bit more for the folks who are most in need, and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well, even though they’ve been working hard … and I understand that; I appreciate that … I just want to make sure that they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts….” He then went on to say, “…And I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody….”
Redistribution, however noble, is not authorized by the Constitution or any Federal Law.
Then, on December 14, 2011, the President stated: “…where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves….”
Now, President Obama is not content with just issuing signing statements. He has decided that he has the power to change laws as written, at his personal whim.
Following are some examples of the newly assumed powers of the President:
> Making recess appointments when congress is not in recess.
> Deciding to suspend various Federal Laws, pandering to people affected by the laws being suspended.
> Making multiple changes to implementation dates and other sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also know as Obamacare, without any supporting legislation.
None of these examples are authorized by the laws being changed or the Constitution. What people should be worried about, is a President who has taken it upon himself to change legislation or implement policies (i.e., redistribution) without going to Congress for supporting legislation that would allow the changes.
How far have we moved form the Republic we were given 226 years ago? Are we a nation of laws or a nation of men? President Obama has decided he has the authority to deviate from the Constitution. That trend is toward a nation of men, not laws. What will it take to restore us to a Nation of Laws?
On December 3, 2013, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the expansive powers the President has assumed for himself. Jonathan Turley, Professor of Public Interest Law, George Washington University, was interviewed by Congress.
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) asked: “Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”
Professor Turley Replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch.”
Why won’t the President “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution? His background and actions speak volumes about his feelings for the Document. However, as President, he is not allowed to ignore the law of the land.
The United States of America is not President Obama’s personal fiefdom to rule by fiat as he chooses. It is a country with three co-equal branches of government, the structure of which our President appears to have forgotten. The President has three more years in office, and the question that must be asked is how long the American Public and Congress will put up with a President who insists that he can rewrite legislation to suit his personal whim, and those of his supporters? The actions of the President are a disgrace to all Americans and the Constitution that he took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend.”
- Bob Hancock