By Dr. Harold Pease
What follows are six major changes to traditional constitutional procedure that have happened the past six months, none of which through the change process required in Article V of the Constitution, but each will adversely affect the distribution of power in this country and how we define liberty in the future. This time period could very well be the most radical six-month period of constitutional change in U.S. history. Should we be concerned with, or worse, frightened by, our own government?
We begin on New Years Eve with the President signing into law the 600-plus pages National Defense Authorization Act which, among other things, authorizes the military to seize and transport U.S. citizens from U.S. soil to Guantanamo Bay on the presumption that they are terrorists. The threat of potential indefinite incarceration without recourse to lawyer, judge and trial is unconscionable in a free society. The new law ends the writ of habeas corpus found in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution and Posse Comitatus protection (protection from ones own armed forces). It also lays waste to much of the Bill of Rights, notably Amendments 4, 5, 6, and 8. Its intimidation potential will impact free speech, press, and assembly as well. Local law enforcement is essentially bi-passed.
Then in February, The National Operations Center (NOC), a part of The Department of Homeland Security, released its “Media Monitoring Initiative” giving itself permission to “gather, store, analyze, and disseminate” data on millions of users of social media, primarily Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. So far they appear less concerned with the information on the average Joe or Jane, although all is kept just in case, as they deal with unmanaged journalists and bloggers. These are defined as those who use “traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed,” such as myself. Targeted are those who post articles, comments, or other information to popular web outlets. It is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
In March we saw and heard Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, each, in testimony given to the Senate Armed Services Committee, inferred that the authority that they depended upon for military purposes came not from Congress, as required in the U. S. Constitution, but from unelected UN or NATO authorities. Disbelieving what he heard, Senator Jeff Sessions repeatedly inquired in different ways only to be given the same answer.
Also, on March 16, President Barack Obama issued his National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order authorizing the Executive department to take-over, in case of a national emergency, all civil transportation, including the “movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation … within the United States.” Other things specifically listed to be under his sole control were: all forms of energy, all farm equipment, all food resources, all food resources facilities, all health resources, and all water resources (Section VIII). “National emergency” was never adequately defined. Nor was it explained why the president needed near dictatorial power in a national emergency and had not in crisis heretofore or when this dictatorial power would end. The Order makes The National Security Council and Homeland Security Council the policy-making forum—not Congress.
In June, frustrated by his inability to get through Congress a law on immigration he favored, and tired of making law the constitutional way, President Barack Obama, openly defied Congress and the Constitution on June 16, 2012, by ordering a like measure to that previously defeated, implemented anyway. In a news conference he outlined the general parameters of his “Dream Act” but specifics came from a six-page Memorandum from John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (See FEA Number 306-112-0026), to enforcement personnel, which essentially advised ignoring existing immigration law. Although our empathy goes out to the children of illegals raised in the United States, is it now permissible for future presidents to make law and defy the authority of Congress?
Finally, despite the clear wordage of the Constitution that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives,” the Supreme Court essentially wrote new law by its ruling, in June, on National Health Care. Even Justice Anthony M. Kennedy referred to it as “vast Judicial overreaching” or “Judicial legislation.” So is it now okay if the Court attempts “to force on the nation a new act?”
So, with respect to these six major changes in traditional constitutional procedure occurring the last six months, should we be concerned with, or frightened of, our own government? How can we not be? Think of all the power taken by, or hand delivered to, the office of President. What event awaits us when such will be used? Unless Congress is willing to reverse the above six items, it may very well be making itself, and the Constitution, irrelevant. You can help by refusing to support any candidate who is not aware of, and is actively against, any of the six constitutional procedure changes noted above.
Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.