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Law prof: US is at “constitutional tipping point”

Law prof: US is at “constitutional tipping point”

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, testified Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee on the topic of “Enforcing the President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”

Turley expressed concern that “We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government,” and that “there has been a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system.”

He went on to note that the shift did not begin under Obama, but has accelerated under this administration.  “Of even greater concern,” Turley wrote in his remarks, “is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, as the Executive Branch has assumed such power.” (Video after the jump).

An additional excerpt from Turley’s prepared remarks:

As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they were done in the circumvention of Congress. For example, when President Obama unilaterally acted on greenhouse gas pollutants, I was initially relieved. I agree entirely with the priority that he has given this issue. However, it takes an act of willful blindness to ignore that the greenhouse regulations were implemented only after Congress rejected such measures and that a new sweeping regulatory scheme is now being promulgated solely upon the authority of the President. We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.

Turley continued in his remarks by providing a series of potential solutions to assist in restoring balance to the system.

His written testimony concluded, in part, as follows:

We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority. No one in our system can “go it alone” – not Congress, not the courts, and not the President. We are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers — for better or worse. We may deadlock or even despise each other. The Framers clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period. Whatever problems we are facing today in politics, they are problems of our own making. They should not be used to take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years.

It’s an interesting read; you can read his remarks in their entirety here.  Portions of Turley’s remarks can be seen on video below, and the entire hearing can be viewed here.

(h/t Washington Free Beacon)


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so…you voted for him and are now concerned hes acting in the manner we said he would be.
not too bright…

If Turley isn’t already being audited, he should expect the IRS call any day now.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 27, 2014 at 8:35 pm

The US constitution is only what a federal district judges say it is.

JackRussellTerrierist | February 27, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Oops…. seeing Turley’s name, I thought the title was “U.S. at constipational tipping point.”

I may have to throw vanity aside and get glasses.



    Lina Inverse in reply to Exiliado. | February 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    That’s the problem: without a credible threat of impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate, there’s absolutely no stopping the continued and foreseeable lawlessness of this Administration. And we know the current establishment GOP would never impeach the first black President.

      Victor David Hanson pointed out in this weeks column that Obama has a permanent 45% base that will always support him. They are white liberals who make too much money to be affected by his programs, government employees and the underclass that has become addicted to Government transfer payments. Until the day they die, those constituencies will praise Obama and his record.

Something must be done.
Our system is obviously vulnerable. All it took was one President with little regard for the separation of powers and the rule of law. Up to this point, there was a certain level of good faith, of respect towards “the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.”

Barack Obama is taking a big dump on that dear system. He is doing it because of two reasons:
1- He figured out that he can get away with it, that when the wheels catch up with him it will be too late.
2- He entirely lacks the good faith that refrained others before him.

“is the fact that the other two branches appear passive”

This is wrong. The courts are actively assisting this leap off the cliff.

    Estragon in reply to randian. | February 28, 2014 at 2:12 am

    And most – not all, but most – of the judges assisting in the “radical transformation” of the system were appointed by Democrats.

    Elections matter. They are too important to “sit out” or to register “protest votes” no matter how attractive it seems to “send a message.” Nothing is EVER accomplished by such tactics, and the ONLY “message sent” is “I am an unreliable ally when I don’t get my way, so don’t waste too much time addressing my concerns because I will find a reason to desert you.”

      Radegunda in reply to Estragon. | February 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      It drives me crazy when people say they’re going to “send a message” by sitting out an election and letting Dems win (or even by voting Dem!) — and not just because of the damage that can be done while the message is supposedly being processed.

      Those people also fail to give much thought to: 1) Who exactly is supposed to get this message and then do something different next time? 2) What message is actually being received?

      On 1), they say things like “the GOP needs to start giving us better candidates.” Apparently they imagine that a committee of Republicans sits down and decides which candidates to “give us,” and whichever candidates the committee chooses will end up on the general ballot. That is obviously a comically strange view of the election process.

      On 2), they somehow imagine that if Democrats keep winning, the GOP cabal will learn that the public wants more conservative candidates. (!) Apparently they’ve never noticed that whenever Democrats win, GOP leaders draw the not irrational conclusion that they need to bend more to the middle.

      Back in 2008, some people who purport to dispense wisdom professionally were saying that an Obama presidency would be better than a McCain presidency because surely the public would quickly see how horrible leftism is and the backlash would inevitably bring us a true conservative as president in 2012.

      How’d that work out? We didn’t even get a solid conservative on the November ballot.

      It’s idiotic to vote on the basis of some supposedly inevitable reaction down the line, or some “lesson” that’s supposed to be learned. If the choice is between unsatisfactory and horrible, we’re going to get one or the other, and the horrible option can do damage that’s exceedingly difficult to reverse (like changing the nation’s demographics).

    Observer in reply to randian. | February 28, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Not just the courts. Congress as well. How many times has Congress delegated its lawmaking power to the executive branch, passing laws containing the words “the Secretary shall determine . . . .” Obamacare alone must contain that phrase hundreds of times.

    If congresspersons were more concerned about doing their job, and less concerned about keeping their job (by avoiding accountability, which is what these dodges are designed to do), we’d have more checks on executive abuses of power.

It’s about time someone with a wider audience than the average citizen spoke up about this.

I am constantly baffled by Liberals who praise the current administration’s decision to ignore laws they don’t like and scribble new ones at the drop of a pen, when they refuse to play poker with me if I were to use the rulebook in the same fashion. I could make enough to retire that way.

I salute Turley as one of the few liberals with actual concern for Constitutional process and tradition.

It is quite true our system has “evolved” over time, beginning very early. For instance, while many love to quote Jefferson on limited government and the evils of the unchecked power of a strong executive, they seldom want to discuss where he found the authority for the Louisiana Purchase, to which he committed without any congressional action.

Jackson, Lincoln, TR, and Wilson all expanded executive power well before FDR began to test the limits.

Obama has “boldly gone where no man has gone before,” at least in the number and significance of his breaches of executive authority – but so did all those others, relative to their time.

What is most telling is the willingness of the Democrats, top to bottom, to acquiesce to his extralegal actions, as long as they agree with the policy goals. How are they any different than Marxist apparatchiks?

Just a repeat of history.

In all of history, no government became more honest, less corrupt, or granted its citizens more rights as it grew in size. E.L. 2011

The GOP: Ignores and belittles its base, puts up lackluster, milquetoast, unwilling or unable to fight nominees, then blames the base it ignores when they inevitably lose. It’s like a losing sports franchise blaming the fans for losing.

I’m sure many folk know the German word “gleichschaltung.” It’s a ruthless fascist technique and means “bringing into line.”
It’s happening very quietly and carefully right here in the good old US-of-A.
Most of the MSM is on board.
The ADL is on board. (believe it or not!)
Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming has become a club to beat the vial corrupt money-grubbing Republicans and non-believers with.
The mortal enemies of fascism “the gun owners” are being systematically mocked, vilified and legislated out of existence with the help of our “free” press. It’s all for the sake of the children dontchaknow.
Fortunately, at 54 I’ll probably be dead before the change is completed. I do weep for the children though.

What a relief, the Judiciary Committee has heard it from a law prof. Thank goodness. It’s now official.

There isn’t enough scorn in the world to heap on them.