Jonathan Turley: The left's indifference to Obama's executive power grabs is beginning to border on a cult of personality


There’s nothing here that you haven’t heard before if you watched him testify before Congress in December but it’s still worth watching for two reasons. One is his tone, which has grown darker and more apocalyptic since then. More than once here he warns that Obama’s “enablers” are destined to rue the fact that they remained silent “during this period.” Precedents are being set that will be built on by future presidents of both parties; for all the complaining about executive overreach by Democrats circa 2006 and Republicans today, the cold realities of power are what they are. I’m tempted to say that it was O’s latest unlawful delay to ObamaCare’s employer mandate that soured Turley’s mood, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it was the State of the Union, where Obama embraced bypassing Congress as formal policy. Look out for the phrase “borders on authoritarianism.”

The other reason to watch is his debunking near the end of the “power of the purse” strategy to check Obama. Mike Lee told the Weekly Standard two days ago that that’s the way he thinks Congress should rein in the president: They’re not going to roll the political dice on impeachment and they can’t sue for lack of standing, but they can go ahead and cut off Obama’s money in areas where he’s exceeded his constitutional boundaries — in theory. The problem with that approach, says Turley, is that O’s not above unilaterally moving money around that’s been appropriated for other purposes. Congress can’t use the “power of the purse” if it doesn’t meaningfully enjoy that power either. So let me repeat a recommendation I made once before: The GOP should introduce a constitutional amendment broadening the legal parameters of standing so that citizens can sue the president for violating separation of powers. The precise language of that amendment would require hard thought; draft it too loosely and the executive branch will be sued for every move it makes, whether clearly constitutional or not. But the status quo, where Congress is effectively powerless to stop the president from making the rules up as he goes along, can’t go on. If you can’t get the votes for the amendment in Congress now, that’s okay — these things take time, and it’ll be useful at least to have Democrats on record as opposing limits on executive power. But get the ball rolling.