American Elephants


The House Will Sue The President For Failing To Observe The Separation of Powers. by The Elephant's Child

Budget Talks Deteriorate Amid Republican Identity Shift On Tax Increases
House Speaker John Boehner told his colleagues on Wednesday that the House of Representatives will sue the executive branch of the government to defend the Constitution’s separation of powers. The Speaker, said the Wall Street Journal, is showing more care that the laws be faithfully executed as the Constitution demands than is President Obama.

The Congress, Mr. Boehner said in his memo to the House, is suffering institutional injury  under Mr. Obama’s “aggressive unilateralism” which is a pretty fair description of his governing philosophy. When the president suspends or rewrites laws across health care, drug policy, immigration laws, and so much else— elected legislators are stripped of their constitutional role.

The basic reason behind this step is Mr. Obama’s flagrant contempt for regular political order. For example, he has unilaterally revised, delayed or reinterpreted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on his own thirty-eight times.

Everyone would prefer that the Congress and the President would settle their disputes through the customary political debates and arguments. House members represent the people of their district by population, and are closest to the public for they must face reelection every two years. A senator represents a whole state. The president represents all the people of the country. It was designed by the Founders to slow things down, so that poorly considered laws were not enacted in haste, in the hopes that would result in better law.

In the current climate, potential laws are not getting through Congress. The lapdog media would blame it all on the Republicans, but the blame lies directly in the hands of the Majority Leader of the Senate—who refuses to allow laws passed by the House to even be voted on. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

The Founders did not consider the possibility that a future president might pay no attention to his oath of office, or just take the law into his own hands. They assumed that a president’s honor and character would mean that even when he disagreed, he would abide by the rules.

“The major reason to involve the judiciary in this case is Mr. Obama’s flagrant contempt for the regular political order,” said the Wall Street Journal.

This president does not feel restrained by the Constitution that he swore to uphold. When Congress will not pass the laws that he wants, as he has said, “I’ve got a phone and a pen.” He will just take action on his own by “executive order.”All presidents have used executive orders from time to time, but none have ever used executive orders to rewrite laws duly passed and signed into law.

Far from a partisan caper, this implicates the foundation of the U.S. political architecture. The courts generally presume that individual Members of Congress lack the “standing” to make a legal challenge, but Mr. Obama is stealing inherent Article I powers that no party other than Congress can vindicate. Mr. Boehner said he will seek a House vote authorizing the lawsuit and put it under the direction of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

A single Congressman may not have standing, but Congress has the institutional standing to sue the president and are thus asking a constitutional question that has not been joined at the courts. More than a few judges and Supreme Court Justices seem to be concerned that Mr. Obama’s conduct is undermining the rule of law and political accountability. Just this week, the Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for defying the plain language of the law in the name of anti-carbon policy. More rebukes may be coming with cases about recess appointments and the ObamaCare contraception mandate.

Last summer, Mr. Obama proclaimed that “in a normal political environment” he’s ask Congress to fix laws such as ObamaCare, but since the House disagrees with his priorities, he’ll just go ahead and fix them himself without legislative consent. But then again, the president can hardly get through normal comments to the press without proclaiming that he is the President of the United States or The Commander in Chief. President Bush often said that “he was the Decider,” but that was not a proclamation of his importance, but a humble expression of the weight of the decisions that he must make. There’s a significant difference.

Thanks to Mr. Boehner, the courts will get a chance to weigh in on whether Mr. Obama or his successors can exercise imperial powers.

 

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