|Obama’s Tyrannical Tendencies|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, January 05 2012
For years now I’ve warned that Barack Obama gives evidence of disturbingly authoritarian tendencies. Wednesday’s ferociously unconstitutional “recess appointments” of three members of the National Labor Relations Board and a new director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were just the latest in a long line of abusive expansions of raw executive power.
On multiple levels, the recess appointments make a mockery of the constitutional construct. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution requires the “advice and consent of the Senate” for major executive appointments, with the exception that “the President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” Long-standing precedent, however, establishes that for purposes of this clause, a “recess” cannot be a mere interlude (as in a three-day weekend) between Senate meetings, but instead a real recess, usually taken to mean at least ten days out of session.
In this case, however, the Senate has been meeting, at least pro forma, at minimum once every three days specifically to preclude just such uses of recess appointments. This is a long-recognized Senate prerogative, exercised as recently as 2007 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
What Obama did with the three NLRB appointments was particularly egregious. As Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Because the President waited to nominate Sharon Block and Richard Griffin until just two days before the Senate was scheduled to adjourn last month, neither has undergone a single confirmation hearing or a single day of debate by the representatives of the American people. Congress has a constitutional duty to examine presidential nominees, a responsibility that serves as a check on executive power. But what the President did today sets a terrible precedent that could allow any future President to completely cut the Senate out of the confirmation process, appointing his nominees immediately after sending their names up to Congress.”
This usurpation of power is part of a pattern. Obama fired an inspector general without properly notifying Congress. He said he would continue paying his various “czars” even as he signed a bill defunding them. He said he would continue paying for foreign aid forbidden by law. His “science czar” ignores legal restrictions on dealings with China. His Justice Department refuses to enforce civil rights laws to protect white victims from black perpetrators, and refuses to enforce laws against vote fraud if those laws aren’t seen as helping turn out (Democratic) votes. It ignores direct Supreme Court precedent by blocking South Carolina from implementing laws requiring serious identification at the polls.
His Secretary of Education improperly ties “waivers” for states’ education goals to the states’ adoption of administration policy preferences nowhere existing in law. His National Labor Relations Board, without a smidgen of actual authority to do so, blocks Boeing from building planes in a non-union state. His Environmental Protection Agency overstretches its lawful authority on issue after issue. In all these instances, and many more, the guiding Obamite principle is to act first, no matter what legal restrictions exist, and then let private lawsuits and the court system try, somehow, to catch up with all of the transgressions and stop them. Even then, reversing some of the things that have already been done in the meantime might prove as difficult as it is to overcome “squatters’ rights.”
None of these provocations, however, approaches for sheer lawless audacity what Obama did right at the beginning of his administration when, without proper authority, he flat-out took over several of the nation’s biggest car companies. It wasn’t just that he took over the companies; it was how he did so. Completely overriding ordinary bankruptcy rules and ignoring the obvious spirit of the “contract clause” (Article I, Section 9) of the Constitution, Obama ignored the ownership rights ordinarily accruing to secured creditors and unilaterally redistributed close to 30 percent of the company’s value from those creditors to union coffers. It was highway robbery and a raw political payoff – pure graft – combined into one rancid package.
This president puts up with constitutional, republican restraints as if they are nuisances to be obeyed only as temporary roadblocks, observed only until he can consolidate enough power to dispatch them to the trash heap for posterity. His authoritarian proclivities are profoundly dangerous. They must be reined in.
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