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2014: A Year of Constitutional Defiance

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

In his State of the Union Address beginning the year 2014 President Barack Obama boldly threatened to “in effect” replace the legislative branch of government by doing it alone, through executive orders, if they did not do as he wished and in a timely fashion. On another occasion he said, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation…. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions….” Some dubbed this his nullification of Congress speech. This was no idle threat. He had already effected 23 executive changes to Obamacare, which greatly altered the 2700-page law from its original meaning.

In April, we saw a range war between the federal government and the Bundy Ranch over the use of land used by Bundy ancestors for a hundred years. It brought into question why the federal government claims 87% of Nevada and sizable sections of all western states—even a third of the landmass of the United States. The Constitution gives it but 10 square miles for a capital and other land meeting three acquisition requirements. It had (1) to be purchased, (2) have the consent of the State Legislature where the land exists, (3) and be for military purposes. None of the acquired western lands followed these requirements.

Perhaps the most offensive display at the Bundy Ranch Standoff was the posting, April 1, by the BLM representatives of a sign, presumably for protesters, “FIRST AMENDMENT AREA.” An expandable red plastic three-foot-high wall encircled the area. In other words, those verbalizing disagreement with the BLM’s heavy-handed confiscation of Bundy cattle could only express themselves within this restricted area or risk being arrested. Opponents promptly posted a sign of their own, “1st AMENDMENT IS NOT AN AREA.” They rightfully contended that Free Speech covered the whole country.

In June of 2014, the President released five Gitmo prisoners—three top intelligence officers and two top military commanders—the five most wanted by the Taliban; one a former Taliban interior minister reportedly having had close ties with Osama bin Laden. These in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, said to be a traitor by his companions in Afghanistan when he walked off base seeking an Al Qaida representative. Article III, Section III clearly defines treason as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” No one seemed to question that these military commanders would return to the theater of war against us. Although key members of both parties, notably Senator Lindsey Graham and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, Dianne Feinstein, were opposed to this action, few wanted to connect the President with an act of treason.

Children next invaded the United States–up from 6,000 in 2011 to 54,000 by late summer, these having crossed killer deserts, cartel infested drug territories, and in most instances more than one country, presumably on their own. The cause, Central Americans believed that if they could just get into the United States President Obama would let them stay. His Presidential Directive of June 16, 2012, to not enforce existing congressional law to extract illegals, fed this perception. Clearly our borders are not protected when children can cross, reportedly unaided: if children, then anyone. The Preamble, charges the federal government with the responsibility of providing for the common defense and it has failed to do so.

In yet another scary scandal the CIA recently acknowledged that it “had secretly searched Senate computer files related to an investigation of the agency’s Bush-era harsh interrogation program.” This wasn’t just any group of U.S. Senators that the CIA decided to spy on, it was the Senate Intelligence Committee, charged with overseeing all spying sponsored by our government. In effect, the CIA was spying on its congressional boss. Feinstein insisted that the CIA removed from committee computers information that cast the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation tactics in a harsh and negative light, this presumably to avoid embarrassment and legal entanglements. The President was never held to answer why his branch of government was spying on yet another.

Not content with Congress’s unwillingness to legislate on climate change to his expectations, the president issued a November 1, 2014, executive order that creates a de facto legislative branch to do so. He titled it, “Preparing the United States for the impacts of Climate Change.” Neither Congress nor the scientific community is in agreement that climate change, when it is documentable, is man-made. As a result Congress is unwilling to legislate, tax and spend on this supposed problem until more confirming data is available. The President, in disagreement, seeks to make rules unilaterally as he has in other areas, despite the fact that he constitutionally is not empowered to make any law as per Article I, Section I.

President Barack Obama acted as though he was unaware of the overwhelming rejection of his policies in one of the largest mid-term election defeats in the last 100 years. He came out of the gate with a renewal of his long-time threat of legalizing illegal immigration through executive order before the end of the year. He referred to it as taking “care of business.” “I can’t wait another two years,” he defiantly threatened Congress. After the American people soundly rejected his policies on November 4th, he addressed them in prime time fashion defiantly rejecting existing law and placing himself above Congress on immigration law. This, after he argued more than two dozen times on different dates in multiple places that he had no constitutional authority to do so, even arguing at one time that he would have to be an emperor to do so.

This decidedly has not been a good year for Constitutional integrity.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution.