President Obama’s state of the union pledge to “act with or without Congress” marks a milestone in presidential usurpation of Congressional authority. Most modern presidents have used executive orders to change and even create laws without Congressional approval. However President Obama is unusually brazen, in that most Presidents do not brag about their plans to rule by executive order in state of the union speeches.
Sadly, his pledge to use his pen to implement laws and polices without the consent of Congress not only received thunderous applause from representatives of the president’s party, some representatives have even pledged to help Obama get around Congress by providing him with ideas for executive orders. The Constitution’s authors would be horrified to see legislators actively adding and abetting a president taking power away from the legislature.
Executive orders are perfectly legitimate and even necessary if, in the words of leading Constitutional Scholar Judge Andrew Napolitano, they “…. guide the executive branch on how to enforce a law or…complement and supplement what Congress has already done.” The problem is that most modern presidents have abused this power to issue orders that, as Judge Napolitano puts it, “restates federal law, or contradicts federal law, or does the opposite of what the federal law is supposed to do.”
Political opponents of the president rightly condemned Obama for disregarding the Constitution. However, it was not that long ago that many of the same politicians where labeling as “unpatriotic” or worse anyone who dared question President Bush’s assertions the he had the “inherent” authority to launch wars, spy on Americans, and even indefinitely detain American citizens.
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