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Senator Obama and President Obama strongly disagree on the separation of powers

Senator Obama and President Obama strongly disagree on the separation of powers

Rep. Trey Gowdy: “I’m going to read a quote, and then you tell me who said it…”

Oh, what a difference a few years—and a seat on the throne of power—make.

The context in which Trey Gowdy was speaking in this video was the debate on the Enforce the Law Act, by which Congress would attempt to give itself standing to sue a president for not “faithfully” executing the law. It has passed the House, with the Republicans joined by five Democrats.

One would think that members of Congress would be eager to support this bill in a bipartisan way, but Democrats in Congress seem all too eager to cede their power to President Obama, who would like to be able to modify Congressional acts at will (which he has done so far, with impunity).

Here’s Gowdy:

I’m going to read a quote, and then you tell me who said it. “These last few years, we’ve seen an unacceptable abuse of power, having a president whose priority is expanding his own power.” Any guess on who said that, Mr. Speaker? It was Senator Barack Obama. Here’s another one: “No law can give Congress a backbone if it refuses to stand up as a co-equal branch as the Constitution made it.” Senator Barack Obama. “What do we do with a president who can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying, ‘I don’t agree’ with this part or that part?” Senator Barack Obama. “I taught the Constitution for ten years, I believe in the Constitution.” Senator Barack Obama. And my favorite, Mr. Speaker: “One of the most important jobs of the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the executive branch on the power of the other branches, and I think the Chief Justice has been a little too willing and eager to give the president more power than I think Congress or the Constitution originally intended.”

So, my question, Mr. Speaker is, how in the world can you get before the Supreme Court if you don’t have standing? What did the president mean by that?…If you don’t have standing, how can you possibly get before the Supreme Court?

Even in the unlikely event that the Senate were to pass the bill, Obama is on record as saying he would veto it. That’s President Obama, of course; Senator Obama would have said otherwise, when a Republican president was in power.

It is worth remembering that none of this would be happening if the press was fulfilling its watchdog function, and if more Americans were aware of how important it is to preserve the safeguards against tyranny that are built into the Constitution, and to make it clear that there will be electoral consequences for those who ignore or violate them. In the final analysis, we can’t rely on either the Supreme Court or Congress to protect their own power from presidential encroachment; it is up to the people.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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Comments

A good campaign slogan…. “If you think an agressive, active, inquisitive, free press is a good thing, elect a Republican President.”

Why, clearly, Obama has “evolved” on this matter.

Juba Doobai! | March 15, 2014 at 8:20 pm

It’s up to the people, huh? Obama has had military vets labeled crazy so they can be disarmed. He has armed the cops with military materiel, and some cops are acting jumpy and scared of the people whilst others are acting as though they are our masters. If the House won’t do its job and bring articles of impeachment against Obama, we will come to revolution point. If we will put down our xbox, unemployment benefits, and food stamp cards, of course.

…or he could sign it and then just ignore it like he ignores every other law he doesn’t like.

Tell me again. What is the point of this bill?

Trey Gowdy, très cool.

It seems to me that all the House needs to do is declare in a resolution that they DO have standing. They don;t need the Senate. They don’t need the Presidents signature. The SCOTUS has declared the law a TAX law. All tax bills MUST originate in the House. The originator of the law has to have standing. I say pass a resolution, go to court, and dare the Supreme Court to say otherwise. If they do, then the budget of the SCOTUS can come under review. The Constitution gave the power of funding the SCOTUS and the power to control it’s makeup to the Congress. Who says there has to be nine justices? There could just as easily be 5 instead. If I’m not mistaken, it was five at one time.

I say pass a House resolution and dare the SCOTUS to say otherwise.

    platypus in reply to BiggBear. | March 16, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Oh yeah! I love it when somebody talks like one of those dirty rotten Founders! Poor King Zero-bambam, he thought it was all a game.

    /

Gowdy is making a point. The bill is clearly unconstitutional and would never pass a court test.

The monolithic press is a part of the problem, but a bigger part is the federally controlled education system that has systematically dumbed down our population for 40 years.

Elections matter. Disputes between branches are political problems, and there are remedies for disputes between Congress and another branch: impeachment.

The fact that it is a useless tool as long as 34 or more Democratic Senators will protect their miscreant President doesn’t affect the reality. Elections matter. Don’t want the country trashed and bankrupted? Stop voting for Democrats or not voting or voting for 3rd parties as a “protest.”

Police officers, active and retired, will be the first to stand up and defend the constitution against tyranny, right alongside active and retired military.

Treating them as the enemy will only make this a 3 sided battle. They are citizens just like we are and they are getting treated like crap and taken for granted just like we are.

If you’re looking for an example, go take a read of second city cop’s blog at secondcitycop.blogspot.com

There is a difference between a government lapdog and a public servant.

The presidential oath in Article II of the Constitution requires the President to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” However, it also requires the President to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” An official’s oath to support and defend the Constitution prevents him from executing laws he believes are unconstitutional. The oath is a personal oath, assumed by the office holder as an independent moral agent, responsible to determine for himself which laws are unconstitutional. An office holder who executes a law that he thinks is unconstitutional violates his oath.

The oath does not allow or direct the oath-taker to transfer the responsibility for determining the constitutionality of a law to another party – the oath-taker does not swear to abide by “the opinions of the courts,” or, in the case of lower-level officials and agents, it does not require them to “follow orders” (although some oaths may require adherence to “lawful orders,” which again presumes the oath taker’s assumption of the responsibility to determine which orders are unlawful – no government ever informs its agents that its orders are unlawful). Only the oath-taker’s opinion matters. This is why “I was only following orders” is not a valid excuse for unlawful acts. The Constitution imposes both a duty to “faithfully execute” the laws and to defend the Constitution. When the former conflicts with the latter, the latter is superior and overrules the former.

In Obama’s case, only his refusal to defend DOMA qualifies. He had an articulable constitutional objection to its execution. All of his other refusals to “faithfully execute” the laws have been motivated by political expediency, without any pretense of an objection on constitutional grounds. All of those refusals are plainly violations of his oath. (His actions concerning the ACA are particularly, blatantly egregious violations of his oath. He intends the ACA to be enforced at a later date, so this precludes any argument that his refusal to enforce it now is in any way based upon a constitutional objection to the law.)

Technically, because in our system of juris prudence unconstitutional laws are of no effect and grant no authority, a government official can’t exercise any authority under them. That is why it is incumbent upon government officers and agents to determine which “laws” are, in fact, not laws, and refuse to execute them. It is better to refuse to exercise a law that may be unconstitutional, than to execute it to the damage of a citizen and find out later that you were wrong. Inaction should always be the default position of government, even to the point of allowing harm to be done, so long as it avoids doing harm itself. This is a way of saying that government’s first job is to avoid harming the citizenry, because, when it does so, it is acting in a manner completely counter to the purpose of its existence and therefore it brings into doubt its own legitimacy. “First, do no harm.”

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