In 1938, Winston Churchill wrote "While England Slept," his famous warning to the British people that they must wake up and strengthen their resolve and resources to resist the Nazi tyranny that was ominously gathering strength on the European mainland. Churchill's warning was heeded barely in the nick of time, and had the English languished in their comfortable lethargy just a little longer, their nation might have fallen to Hitler's relentless march to conquest before the Brits were armed and prepared for the challenge.
A comparable national lethargy seems to have anesthetized much of the American populace as it becomes increasingly vulnerable to a tyranny of a different sort. This threat is not posed by the militaristic totalitarians of another nation, but by the domestic tyrants who are asserting an increasingly totalitarian form of political control over the United States.
Our constitutional Republic is not threatened by external forces, but by insidious domestic political abuse and aggrandizement, thus far unhindered by any vigilant patriotic resistance. Unless enough right-minded Americans stir themselves from their political slumber, President Obama's ongoing subversion of constitutional government in American could become a fait accompli.
Obama is engaged in an increasingly blatant expansion of presidential lawmaking and law-breaking power that brazenly flouts the constitutional restrictions so carefully established by the Founding Fathers. Although other presidents have sometimes pushed the envelope of their authority at the margins, Obama is engaging in the most extreme and ruthless expansions of executive power since the exigencies of the Civil War drove Lincoln to resort to harsh measures (like the suspension of habeas corpus in 1861) he considered absolutely necessary to save the Union . But no such exigencies remotely justify Obama's calculated flouting of constitutional restraints on his politicized power-grab.
The constitutional rules governing the exercise of the presidential authority are straightforward – and this reckless president violates them directly and regularly. Under Article I of the Constitution, the legislative authority – specifically, "all legislative powers" -- is granted solely to Congress, and it must be exercised in a specifically prescribed manner. The laws must be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and signed by the President – unless his rejection of a bill is overridden by a two-thirds majority of both Houses. Further, Under Article II, section 3, of the Constitution, the President is required to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
Obama is usurping and subverting this legislative authority both by purporting to impose laws that have not been enacted by Congress, and by declining to enforce laws that have been enacted.
Under Art. II, the President exercises the executive power, which is chiefly the authority to execute or administer the laws, as written, and to act as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. It does not include any direct authority to make laws. The President does, however, have limited authority to promulgate regulations that are necessary to implement laws passed by Congress. And he has authority to promulgate executive orders insofar as they implement executive authority he already possesses, either directly under the Constitution, or by legislative delegation from Congress. For example, the President can issue executive orders regulating certain military matters based on his clear authority as Commander-in-Chief. Conversely, the President cannot constitutionally issue orders categorically declining to enforce duly enacted laws, or imposing requirements or standards on people or companies that have not been enacted or authorized by legislation.
But Obama routinely and repeatedly engages in precisely those forms of patently unconstitutional tyranny. For example, he has impudently refused to enforce the immigration laws against entire categories of illegal aliens, without any constitutional or statutory basis to do so. Sycophantic legal "scholars" strain to excuse this unconstitutional behavior by invoking the amorphous doctrine of prosecutorial discretion, which merely states the truism that it is impossible to prosecute all violations of the law, and therefore the government must have some discretion to focus its prosecutorial efforts in the most effective manner. But that is not what Obama and his minions are doing. Instead, they are categorically exempting certain preferred groups from enforcement of the law, exactly as though Congress had enacted such a categorical exemption in the relevant statute -- even though Congress actually declined to enact such an exemption. This is the essence of tyrannical usurpation of the legislative authority – usurpation that makes a mockery of a constitutional republic.
Obama and his lawless Attorney General, Eric Holder, similarly declined to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") because of their fanatical determination to impose same-sex marriage on the Nation. More recently, Obama has selectively ordered the Secretary of HHS and other federal officials to cease enforcement of mandatory provisions of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, because Obama's political designs required it. Obama has thus made it clear that he has no respect or regard for the Constitution's directive that he "take care" to faithfully execute the laws.
Again and again, moreover, the Obama administration effectively amends duly enacted statutes by executive action, when such amendment can only be done by corrective legislation in accordance with Art.I of the Constitution.
Rather than recognizing that he may have pushed too far in this regard, Obama has recently made clear that he actually intends to "double down" with such practices. His arrogance is such that he utterly fails to recognize the legitimacy of legislative opposition – exactly as contemplated by the Framers as a necessary check against tyranny – and invokes such opposition as justification for unilateral, and unconstitutional presidential lawmaking.
On top of his illegitimate presidential legislating, Obama has extended his constitutional abuses to the appointment power which he possesses under Art II, sec. 2 of the Constitution. The President's appointment of "principal officers" – like the Heads of Departments or the members of certain boards and agencies – expressly requires the confirmation of two-thirds of the Senate. An exception to this requirement exists when the Senate is in recess, during which recess the President may make appointments of limited duration without such Senate confirmation. But Obama has brazenly distorted this provision by purporting to usurp the Senate's sole authority under Art. I, sec. 5 of the Constitution, to declare when it is in recess. In 2012, when the Senate formally declared that it was still in session and not in recess, Obama brazenly rejected the Senate's declaration, decided for himself that the Senate was in recess, and proceeded to appoint important federal officers without Senate confirmation. Three federal courts of appeals have since ruled that these appointments were unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court's consideration of the issue at oral argument several weeks ago strongly indicates that it will reach the same conclusion. Whether a reprimand from the Supreme Court on this particular constitutional abuse will substantially curtail Obama's relentless quest for unhindered executive power is doubtful.
We have now reached the point where the danger posed by Obama's gross disregard for constitutional constraints is not a matter of mere academic or journalistic debate. It is real. Obama is an anti-constitutional tyrant bent on gathering as much power as possible into his radical leftist hands.
In the absence of a determined political opposition in Congress with sufficient voting power and unity to provide a meaningful check, Obama's relentless reach for unfettered presidential power will continue unabated. Only if Republicans are able to achieve majority control in the Senate in the 2014 elections, while retaining their control in the House, will such a meaningful check be achieved – and even then, only if the Republican majorities are as unified in their opposition as congressional Democrats are unified in their sycophantic support.
Regretably, Obama's above-described effort to nullify the restraints inherent in the separation of powers is hardly the only example of tyrannical and anti-constitutional abuse perpetrated by Obama and his administration minions. In subsequent posts, SR will examine how Obama and his dangerous Attorney General, Eric Holder, have grotesquely distorted the constitutional requirement of equal protection under the laws to benefit their favored political constituencies, such as certain blacks, Hispanics, and homosexuals, to the detriment of the citizenry at large. SR will also consider the Obama administration's blatant abuse of its law enforcement power to punish political enemies, while protecting favored political constituencies – the very essence of tyrannical government.