Executive order

Obama's Lone Wolf Presidency

When the president effectively writes the laws, Congress is effectively neutered.

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Can the president rewrite federal laws? Can he alter their meaning? Can he change their effect? These are legitimate questions in an era in which we have an unpopular progressive Democratic president who has boasted that he can govern without Congress by using his phone and his pen, and a mostly newly elected, largely conservative Republican Congress with its own ideas about big government.

These are not hypothetical questions. In 2012, President Obama signed executive orders that essentially said to about 1.7 million unlawfully present immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthdays and who are not yet 31 years of age that if they complied with certain conditions that he made up out of thin air they will not be deported.

In 2014, the president signed additional executive orders that essentially made the same offer to about 4.7 million unlawfully present immigrants, without the age limits that he had made up out of thin air. A federal court enjoined enforcement of the 2014 orders last month.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission—the bureaucrats appointed by the president who regulate broadcast radio and television—decreed that it has the authority to regulate the Internet, even though federal courts have twice ruled that it does not. Also last week, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose director is appointed by the president, proposed regulations that would outlaw the only mass-produced bullets that can be fired from an AR-15 rifle. This rifle has been the target of the left for many years because it looks like a military weapon; yet it is a lawful and safe civilian rifle commonly owned by many Americans.

This week, the president's press secretary told reporters that the president is seriously thinking of signing executive orders intended to raise taxes on corporations by directing the IRS to redefine tax terminology so as to increase corporate tax burdens. He must have forgotten that those additional taxes would be paid by either the shareholders or the customers of those corporations, and those shareholders and customers elected a Congress they had every right to expect would be writing the tax laws. He has eviscerated that right.

What's going on here?

What's going on is the exercise of authoritarian impulses by a desperate president terrified of powerlessness and irrelevance, the Constitution be damned. I say "damned" because when the president writes laws, whether under the guise of administrative regulations or executive orders, he is effectively damning the Constitution by usurping the powers of Congress.

The Constitution could not be clearer. Article I, section 1 begins, "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Obama actually asked Congress to write the laws he is now purporting to write, and Congress declined, and so he does so at his peril.

In 1952, President Truman seized America's closed steel mills because steel workers went on strike and the military needed hardware to fight the Korean War. He initially asked Congress for authorization to do this, and Congress declined to give it to him; so he seized the mills anyway. His seizure was challenged by Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co., then a huge operator of steel mills. In a famous Supreme Court decision, the court enjoined the president from operating the mills.

Youngstown is not a novel or arcane case. The concurring opinion by Justice Robert Jackson articulating the truism that when the president acts in defiance of Congress he operates at his lowest ebb of constitutional power and can be enjoined by the courts unless he is in an area uniquely immune from congressional authority is among the most highly regarded and frequently cited concurring opinions in modern court history. It reminds the president and the lawyers who advise him that the Constitution imposes limits on executive power.

The president's oath of office underscores those limits. It requires that he enforce the laws faithfully. The reason James Madison insisted on using the word "faithfully" in the presidential oath and putting the oath itself into the Constitution was to instill in presidents the realization that they may need to enforce laws with which they disagree—even laws they hate.

But Obama rejects the Youngstown decision and the Madisonian logic. Here is a president who claims he can kill Americans without due process, spy on Americans without individualized probable cause, start wars on his own, borrow money on his own, regulate the Internet, ban lawful guns, tell illegal immigrants how to avoid the consequences of federal law, and now raise taxes on his own.

One of the safeguards built into the Constitution is the separation of powers: Congress writes the laws, the president enforces the laws, and the courts interpret them. The purpose of this separation is to prevent the accumulation of too much power in the hands of too few—a valid fear when the Constitution was written and a valid fear today.

When the president effectively writes the laws, Congress is effectively neutered. Yet, the reason we have the separation of powers is not to protect Congress, but to protect all individuals from the loss of personal liberty. Under Obama, that loss has been vast. Will Congress and the courts do anything about it?

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69 responses to “Obama's Lone Wolf Presidency

  1. When the president effectively writes the laws, Congress is effectively neutered. Yet, the reason we have the separation of powers is not to protect Congress, but to protect all individuals from the loss of personal liberty. Under Obama, that loss has been vast. Will Congress and the courts do anything about it?

    Nothing significant, that’s for sure.

  2. “There are no innocent civilians, sir…”

    That’s kind of how I feel about government any more. There’s nothing good that comes from it. Only more and more evil and control and death and taxes. Obama’s just the latest and worst.

    Over the cliff the USA slides – ever faster, but always down, down, down into the abyss.

  3. You say you want a revoltion
    Wellllll you know….

    1. Ever notice that in most countries where revolutions have occured, it is the left that is prepared beforehand to seize power from the chaos?

      1. ” The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. ”

        George Orwell – 1984

        1. “But the National Socialist German Workers Party were RIGHT WING CONSERVATIVES!!”

          (This is what leftists really believe.)

          1. The only people farther to the right are libertarians! They want to impose liberty on the people! That’s tyranny!

  4. OT – In which a SJW displays some self awareness, and correctly describes the online antics of his comrades.

    It isn’t an exaggeration to say that there is a mild totalitarian undercurrent not just in call-out culture but also in how progressive communities police and define the bounds of who’s in and who’s out. More often than not, this boundary is constructed through the use of appropriate language and terminology ? a language and terminology that are forever shifting and almost impossible to keep up with.

    1. “Mild”? Gee, ya think, sweet cheeks?

    2. God, the comments on that article burned my eyes.

      1. My god, the navel gazing is unbelievable. It is amazing that so many people pour so many words into expressing nothing.

      2. This. In the first few I saw all the SJW buzzwords that we mock here being used without any sense of irony (“restorative justice principles,” “traumatic experiences getting triggered,” “microaggression” etc.). The sad part is that what these people are realy describing is not actual no shit “oppression” but someone hurting their fragile wittwe feewings…

        Mostly though, it was just a bunch of word salad. Most of the comments struck me as the kind of shit that very stupid people spew out in a vain attempt to sound smart to other stupid people.

        1. From the article:

          “How do we hold people to account who are experts at using anti-oppressive language to justify oppressive behaviour? ”

          Well, how about holding them to a fucking standard where the words mean something. If all you can spew is techno-babble (of whatever type) then you are generally full of shit. People that try to get away with it should be called on it.

          If they can’t explain what they mean in easy to understand language then they probably don’t really know what they are talking about.

    3. Somebody’s going to get purged for being insufficiently goodthinkful.

    4. Somebody’s going to get purged for being insufficiently goodthinkful.

      1. FOOKIN’ SKWERLZ!!

          1. I welcome our new rodent overlords.

    5. I wasn’t aware that “Two-Minutes Hate” has been renamed “Call-Out Culture”.

      1. This. I disdain the compelling need so many in the progressive community find to invent new ways to be catty.

  5. Here is a president who claims he can kill Americans without due process, spy on Americans without individualized probable cause, start wars on his own, borrow money on his own, regulate the Internet, ban lawful guns, tell illegal immigrants how to avoid the consequences of federal law, and now raise taxes on his own.

    He doesn’t just claim, he actually does these things, and neither congress nor the courts have the guts to try to stop any of it.

  6. What a load of nutty bullshit. Josh Earnest said Obama would continue to find ways to assist the middle class and wingnut.com reported that Obama said he would use an EO to raise corporate taxes.

    The exact quote from Earnest: “The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans,”

    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/c…..n-n1964629

    It was CONGRESS that neutered the 4th Amendment in 2007-08 and made NSA spying legal.

    the wingnut mind is a fevered one.

    1. And of course the NSA is a legislative organization and completely out of the control of the exec…hey, wait a minute.

      Seriously, could you run these posts by someone with a working brain before hitting submit?

      1. And of course if the lying press secretary says raising taxes will help the middle class, we all believe that’s actually true!

        I swear, shreek just gets stupider and more dishonest as time goes on. We will never reach peak derp.

        1. He is just getting Ready for Hillary!

          1. Hillary deserves to be President! Because, vagina!

            I wish I were joking but that is basically the entire basis for her campaign.

            1. 20 years ago in Sweden, the prime minister resigned, so the ruling party had to pick a new leader. The frontrunner was a woman named Mona Sahlin. That is, until it turned out she was using government credit cards for private purposes, and she had to drop out.

              There were still complaints about how awful it was that the new PM didn’t have a vulva. Mona Sahlin got a cushy job with the EU where she continued to remain corrupt, and then even got another bite at leading the Social Democrats, but lost the general election.

              Sweden now has a “Feminist Initiative” party, and everybody in the chattering classes falls all over themselves to say everything must be “feminist” this or “feminist” that.

        2. Weigel is definitely one of the most vile cretins you’ll ever see. I wish he would do the world a favor and drown himself.

      2. Don’t lock eyes with ’em, yadda yadda yadda.

      3. “Seriously, could you run these posts by someone with a working brain before hitting submit?”
        If turd did that, we’d never see another post.

    2. What you’ve just said… is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having seen it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul…

    3. Oh and your article is titled: “Obama “Very Interested” In Raising Taxes Through Executive Action”. Good lord, you’re not even trying. The damn title says that’s what he’s doing and his press secretary says he’s very interested in that method when quoted. Either you can’t comprehend what you read or you operate under the misguided idea that nobody will actually look at links.

      1. The headline is wingnut bullshit.

        this would be accurate “Press Sec Earnest notes that Obama will consider EO to help the middle class”.

        1. Sure you wanna keep playing, shreek? The game’s always between you and getting called a cunt. That dropped eye of yours looks like the hood on a cunt to me, shreek. When you talk, your mouth looks like a cunt moving.

          1. Well played. One of my favorite lines of all time.

        2. Why link to the article? The thing makes it very clear that he was talking about using executive orders to enact policy, and the included quotes support that. Why not just give up after you’ve been rhetorically Rousey armbarred?

        3. So do you think the tax change will help the middle class?

          If you don’t – because you’re such a classical liberal – what is wrong with Napolitano’s description?

      2. ” Either you can’t comprehend what you read or you operate under the misguided idea that nobody will actually look at links.”

        He only comprehends 8% of what he reads.

    4. Oh well,, if Josh Earnest said Chocolate Nixon is just trying to help the middle class it must be true! Just look at his last name! Earnest! How could someone possibly not believe with a name like that! /Derp.

    5. “It was CONGRESS that neutered the 4th Amendment in 2007-08 and made NSA spying legal.”

      You expect us to believe that Obama can tell DHS to start ignoring swaths of the Law regarding deportation, but he can’t issue an executive order regarding NSA spying? That’s just bullshit.

  7. Obama is a moron, plain and simple.

    http://www.AnonStuff.tk

    1. Even the ‘bots are realizing this.

  8. The Presidency is held by a single person. Leaving the fate of the country is one person’s hands is a risky proposition, to say the least. That is why we have a congress and a supreme court. If the other two branches — especially Congress — were doing their jobs, we should be able to put any living person — idiot or megalomaniac, take your pick — in the White House without endangering the country. Congress has abdicated its duties, and devotes most of its energy on fund raising and cronyism.

    1. Once the TEAMS decided they would never hold one of their own accountable, no matter what they did, the whole thing was doomed. The only reason Nixon was forced from office (for far less transgressions) is because the Republicans held him accountable for his actions. That could never happen today.

  9. “But Obama rejects the Youngstown decision and the Madisonian logic. Here is a president who claims he can kill Americans without due process, spy on Americans without individualized probable cause, start wars on his own, borrow money on his own, regulate the Internet, ban lawful guns, tell illegal immigrants how to avoid the consequences of federal law, and now raise taxes on his own.”

    Then impeach him.

    1. Not possible without some willingness on the part of Democrats to hold him accountable. Which will never happen.

      1. With the new establishment Republicans also serving as Democrats the illusion of a two party system has clearly dissolved into a one party government.

  10. This is a Test

    1. and another one

      Mr Le-May says he did not know how remarkable his pictures were of a weasel on a woodpecker’s back, until he downloaded them at home.

      “I flicked through the photographs when I got indoors and suddenly I came across this image of a weasel clinging on to the back of the woodpecker.

      “Then I realised that this was something special.”

      1. Because it’s a metaphor: the woodpecker is the people, the weasel is the government.

  11. Correction – the ATF proposes to ban M855 cartridges. M193 would not be banned (as of yet), and is still mass produced by most all ammunition manufacturers, including the Federal Lake City plant which is the primary supplier to the military.

  12. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission?the bureaucrats appointed by the president who regulate broadcast radio and television?decreed that it has the authority to regulate the Internet, even though federal courts have twice ruled that it does not.

    Okay, I think mandating Net Neutrality is a bad idea, but does Napolitano seriously think this is an accurate description of the holding in Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC?

    1. No, it is incredibly inaccurate to the point of being a falsehood. The court had no problem with the FCC regulating the Internet, just the way the FCC was trying to do it. And the court itself provided the exact path for the FCC to follow… which resulting in the vote last week.

  13. Will Congress and the courts do anything about it?

    No.

    1. That would require them to have backbones. Excluding the solid bone they have for heads, they are otherwise entirely boneless.

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  16. Sure he’s not the first to push that direction, nonetheless, Obama has certainly done more than his fair share to transform the presidency into a dictatorship.

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  18. What I find most sinister, are the ones who pushed for it, GWBush’s cohorts. They are the same evil people that worked with Nixon and were not happy that he couldn’t do whatever he wanted. They actually patiently waited, all those years, to get a chance to have enough power to install this wide sweeping, US Constitution destroying, power grab. Once they were in GWB’s administration, they were handed this power. In fact, prior to the ‘Patriot Act’ being law, those in the GWB’s administration who wanted this unprecedented power, suggested a ‘Pearl Harbor-like’ incident, would get Americans to support GWB’s warmongering.

    There was also talk of trying ways to make it look as if another country attacked us. One idea was to paint planes to look like they had been deployed from another country. People have to remember, GWB was not a very popular president at that time, his “numbers” were low, and nothing short of a horrendous disaster would change that. September 11th 2001 was that disaster they had been waiting for.

    Those who called me a “terrorist-lover” and “terrorist-sympathizer” when the ‘Patriot Act’ was signed into law, are the very ones who today, now complain the most about all it’s forms. Ironically, they will, until a Republican steps back into the White House, then they will agree with it again.

    1. BUSH!!!!!!

  19. “Last week, the Federal Communications Commission?the bureaucrats appointed by the president who regulate broadcast radio and television?decreed that it has the authority to regulate the Internet, even though federal courts have twice ruled that it does not.”

    Oh, come on! Are you kidding me? I can’t read you anymore if you’re just going to make shit up. The court last year actually said the FCC may have authority if it classified network providers as “common carriers”. The court did not actually have much of a problem with the FCC’s Open Internet Order, only its application to entities that were not common carriers.

  20. But, whatever, it’s cute that you think this is not actually planned. An all powerful executive is exactly what Congress wants: it gives representatives something to rile the masses and campaign against while at the same time giving them a handy excuse for not stopping anything the President is doing (while asking to be reelected, of course, because they’ll discover the magical formula to not be inept if you just give them a couple more years).

  21. When a Republican is again President (we’ll see it within the next 30 years probably) all these people supporting a runaway executive will suddenly rediscover the wisdom of separation of powers, checks and balances, and the Constitution in general. That the American people and the media aren’t railing against the dangers of the ever-expanding power of the federal government in general and the executive in particular shows severe myopia.

    1. Oh, they’ll be opposed to a Republican President having power, but that doesn’t mean they’ll “rediscover the wisdom of separation of powers, checks and balances, and the Constitution in general.”

      They never discovered it in the first place. They won’t discover it with a Republican in the White House. They’ll just do what they’ve always done, is use language to manipulate as best they can. The only principle they abide by is “power for the sake of power”.

  22. Spying on all citizens. Using the federal government to punish and terrorize political opponents. Particularly spying on journalists. Choosing which laws he will and will not enforce. Annexing foreign populations.

    Except for Obama routinely looking like a boob, Putin must be pretty jealous.

  23. But Obama rejects the Youngstown decision and the Madisonian logic. Here is a president who claims he can kill Americans without due process, ???? ??? ???? ??????? spy on Americans without individualized probable cause, start wars on his own, borrow money on his own, regulate the Internet, ban lawful guns, tell illegal immigrants how to avoid the consequences of federal law, and now raise taxes on his own.
    nice words

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