separation of powers

Five Things That Are Right with the Congressional Budget Process

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog published a listicle by public affairs consultant John Feehery (once a spokesman for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, the moderate, more timid successor to revolutionary Newt Gingrich), opining on the messy federal budget process. My attempts to reach Reid Epstein, the blog’s editor, to offer a counterpoint were fruitless, so here are five reasons we should be thankful for the current federal budgeting process.

House Republicans plan to sue Barack Obama over illegal executive actions

The House of Representatives is getting pretty tired of President Barack Obama going around the Constitution to enact laws through executive and regulatory fiat as well as ignoring laws passed by Congress. Roll Call reports that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is preparing a lawsuit against the White House over executive overreach:

The lawsuit could set up a significant test of constitutional checks and balances, with the legislative branch suing the executive branch for ignoring its mandates, and the judiciary branch deciding the outcome.

Boehner told the House Republican Conference during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has been consulting with legal scholars and plans to unveil his next steps this week or next, according to sources in the room.
[…]
Boehner’s legal theory is based on work by Washington, D.C., attorney David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler LLP and Elizabeth Price Foley, a professor of law at Florida International University College of Law.

Rivkin said in an interview that in addition to proving institutional injury, the House would have to prove that as an institution, it has authorized the lawsuit. A vote by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group would do so.

The suit would also have to prove that no other private plaintiff has standing to challenge the particular suspension of executive action and that there are no other opportunities for meaningful political remedies by Congress, for instance by repeal of the underlying law.

The potential remedies the legislative branch has to deal with executive overreach are limited, and not all of them are politically viable.

The U.S. Constitution, Obama’s Door Mat

A few days after the 2008 elections, Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of President-Elect Obama’s transition team, was interviewed by Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press”, where she stated: “ [Obama] is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” At the time it was written off by most as simply a poor choice of words, but after the last three years in which Obama has compiled an inglorious record of contempt for the Constitution, Jarrett’s words now have proven prophetic. Obama has even surpassed FDR in the sheer brazenness of his contempt for our nation as a rule of law under the Constitution, and in attempts to make servants of the other co-equal branches of government.

Obama truly seems to see himself in the role of a king, with power to enforce his agenda by sheer will, ignoring law and precedent in crushing opposition to his executive branch tyranny. Two recent events have added to our despicable president’s legacy of corruption, disdain and contempt for the Constitution; his signing of the National Defense Appropriations Act, which funds military and defense operations, but that also contains a provision that should terrify every American that loves freedom; and Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Barack Obama’s Imperial iPhone Presidency

Obama's iPhone Presidency

President Obama, discarding once and for all any pretense of respect for the Constitution and the limits it places on the chief executive under the Separation of Powers doctrine, infamously declared in January of this year, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone…And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”

Those are not the words of a president in our constitutional republic; those are the words of a petty tyrant.

Obama has made good on his promise though. In violation of the so-called Affordable Care Act, the very law that he championed and that passed on a strictly party-line vote without a single Republican in support, Obama has unilaterally delayed and changed provisions of the law dozens of times. He extended deadlines, granted waivers to the politically-connected, and laughed off his promise that no federal taxpayer dollars would be used to fund abortions.

In a blatantly transparent move to gain more Hispanic votes for Democrats, Obama has refused to enforce our immigration laws even as hundreds of thousands of illegals pour over the border from Mexico, including tens of thousands of children he willingly uses as pawns in his political game. Not until word started leaking out about many of these children dying during the journey, or being physically and sexually assaulted, or sold into slavery, did Obama even make a pretense of stemming the tide of illegals.

Hypocrites: House Democrats only want transparency and government oversight when a Republican is in the White House

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee aren’t even trying anymore to pretend like they care about the White House’s lack of transparency. They’ve long defended the Obama administration from scandals, often appearing like they don’t care that the White House tried sell a lie to Americans about Benghazi or that the IRS targeted organizations simply because of their political views.

But a lesser controversy brought out a revealing admission from a couple of Democrats on the House’s primary oversight committee.

During a Friday hearing on alleged violations of the Hatch Act by the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, Delegate Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-DC) blasted her Republican colleagues on the committee for trying to get to the bottom of this latest controversy.

Holmes is upset that Republicans have subpoenaed David Simas, director the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, to testify over the use of a taxpayer-funded government office for partisan political activity. The White House, however, has refused to comply, absurdly and arrogantly claiming executive privilege. Simas has missed the two recent Oversight hearings on the matter.

“I agree that there are circumstances where you don’t need wrongdoing, but you need a predicate for a subpoena. You need more than a fishing expedition,” Norton complained. “You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation of powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation of powers government.”

Barack Obama is throwing a temper tantrum with serious constitutional implications

Barack Obama

Organizing for Action, the grassroots group formed out of President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, is flaunting the complete disregard the White House and administration have for the Constitution.

The organization, which was caught selling access to administration officials in exchange for donations, tweeted this out yesterday from @BarackObama, President Obama’s official Twitter account:

Talk about an Orwellian message.

The link in the tweet sends you to a page that mentions the lawsuit Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to file against the White House and features video of President Obama telling ABC News that he’s “not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing.” OFA calls it a “mic drop” and asks visitors to the page to “make a donation of $5 or more.”

Republicans are right, Obama should be held accountable for his power grabs, but the problem didn’t begin when he took office

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) indicated this week that he’s preparing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama over his many abuses of executive power, which, he said in a memo to House Republicans, gives the executive branch “king-like authority at the expense of the American people and their elected legislators.”

Republicans, of course, have a legitimate complaint against President Obama, one that brings up very real concerns about separation of powers. This White House has run roughshod over the Constitution by ignoring laws passed by a duly elected Congress or enacting new laws through executive and regulatory fiat. But there’s also a hint of hypocrisy from the GOP.

Fox News host Neil Cavuto brought up the hypocrisy in a contentious interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Wednesday afternoon.

“Where was your rage when Democrats were going after President [George W.] Bush on the same use of executive orders?” Cavuto asked. “Because I think you knew then that was a waste of time then, and I think you know in your heart of hearts this is a waste of time now,” telling Bachmann that there are “more important things that you guys have to be addressing than filing lawsuits past each other.”

“Listen, I’m not the one — I’m not the one talking about that,” Bachmann replied. “What I’m saying is that what we have — what’s very important is this, the President trying to establish lawlessness in the United States. That’s a big issue.”

Barack Obama is the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be, constitutional law professor warns

Barack Obama and Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon would envy the power that Barack Obama has consolidated into the Executive Branch. In this new, unrecognizable system of government, a president can change laws arbitrarily, paying no mind to the two other coequal branches of government.

During an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity on Wednesday evening, Jonathan Turley, a Georgetown constitutional law professor and political leftist, explained that President Obama’s flouting of a law requiring that his administration notify Congress before the transfer of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is just latest example of the “uber-presidency.”

“[U]nfortunately our system is changing, and it’s changing without a debate, or even a discussion as to what we’re going to do in the future when we have a three branch system, a tripartite system but one branch is so dominant,” Turley told Sean Hannity. “What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber-presidency as I’ve called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that.”

Turley blasts Obama’s “uber presidency”

Jonathan Turley continues to be one of the few leftists with a conscience when it comes to the concentration of power in the executive branch. Though he agrees with many of President Barack Obama’s policies, the Georgetown law professor, who recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee, has serious concerns about the means through which he has enacted them.

In a post at his blog on Friday, Turley responded to latest major change in the law, in which the administration ostensibly delayed enforcement of the individual mandate, blasting President Obama for ignoring the Constitution and criticizing Democrats for enabling the administration: (emphasis added):

The hypocrisy of Dianne Feinstein

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) spoke out yesterday morning about the accusations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had accessed committee staffers’ computers. In a 40-plus minute speech, Feinstein accused the agency of removing documents related to its investigation into the agency’s Bush-era detention and interrogation programs and intimidation:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to an attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.”

She confirmed that an internal agency investigation of the action has been referred to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. And she accused the CIA of violating the Fourth Amendment, various federal laws and a presidential executive order that bars the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance.

She has sought an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, but said: “I have received neither.”


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.