By Harold Pease, Ph. D
“We cannot wait for Congress to act on this,” so said President Barack Obama Tuesday in his first address to the nation in 2016. In essence he will now make the laws dealing with the 2nd Amendment himself because Congress refused to make law the President wanted. Mostly the executive orders (new laws) expand required background checks and the number of those requiring a sales license to sell guns (which requires tremendous paperwork, expense, and about a year to obtain). This Congress refused to pass three times during the Obama administration, once when the Democrats were in charge. Even gun exchanges between family members come into question. Potentially this means that people who violate the law made by the president alone will go to jail or be otherwise punished as with kings and dictators.
This is reminiscent of a statement made by the White House just two years ago on executive amnesty. “We’re not just going to sit around and wait interminably for Congress. We’ve been waiting a year already.” In this instance, some in Congress had worked on what was called the Dream Act that would extend amnesty and place illegal immigrants on a course toward full citizenship. Lacking popularity, twice it failed to get the majority vote of both Houses of Congress required by the Constitution, thus leaving long-standing existing immigration law unchanged. Obama, failing to get a favorable vote from Congress, openly defied Congress and the Constitution by ordering a like measure to that defeated, implemented anyway. It has since rightly been blocked by the Judicial Branch as having been an overreach by the President, thus unconstitutional.
Executive amnesty was outright contempt for Congress and the Constitution and the President knew it. Twenty-seven times prior to his doing the order he argued that it would be unconstitutional were he to do it. As for example, on March 28, 2011, he said, with respect to the idea of nullifying Congress on the deportation issue. “The notion that I can just suspend deportations just through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed.”
Indeed, by executive order Obama has changed existing law at least 30 times, most notably in the Affordable Care Act, which today is not the bill passed by Congress in 2010. In doing these, and the new parade of executive orders on gun control, the President is replacing Congress as the only federal lawmaker of the land.
There is nothing more clear nor basic in the Constitution than the separation of federal power into three branches, one to legislate, another to execute that law, and a third to adjudicate possible violations of that law when contested—a division of power held “sacred” until the last few decades. The Constitution reads: “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”(Article I, Sec. I).
The Executive branch has NO authority to make law—any law!!!! Nor does it have constitutional authority to alter existing law. Executive Orders are constitutional only when they cite a single, recently passed law of Congress, where that law needs a statement of implementation by the executive branch. Originally they were but interdepartmental directives.
A president can only suggest a need for new law in his State of the Union Address, and either sign or veto a law passed by Congress, which then, if vetoed, must be overridden by a vote of 2/3rds of both houses to become law. That is it.
I warned my readers when Obama blatantly violated the Constitution on executive amnesty that “if not challenged by Congress his alterations would become existing law by practice without the consent of the peoples’ representatives, voiding the role of Congress, and that he, upon finding a weak Congress, would repeat the practice of making law by decree.” He has!! Some have used the word dictatorial to describe the practice. I renew this warning, not just for Obama but also for presidents who follow from either party, as they will use past practice to justify desired practice and the trend to nullify Congress as the only federal lawmaking body will continue. Executive Orders that have the force and effect of law must stop to preserve liberty.
Obama’s present override of Congress on 2nd Amendment issues is an even more blatant abuse of his oath of office, to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” To protect the separation of powers and end Obama’s threat to the Constitution, Congress must publically renounce all his new executive orders and fast track immediately to impeachment. Yes, the Constitution requires that he be retired in twelve months anyway but a bill of impeachment reestablishes the precedent that the people will not tolerate the defilement of the Constitution thus discouraging constitutional rogues of the future. Failing to do so weakens Congress’s sole role as the federal law-making branch of government, the clarity of the 2nd Amendment, and the integrity of the presidential oath of office.
Democrats must see that their failure to insist on a retraction of all law-making executive orders forever weakens the sole power of Congress to make all law and places us on the road of government by decree or edict of one man. We must choose the Constitution over party. The Constitution is there to protect all parties and all citizens from arbitrary and caprices rule as just announced. Please let it work.