Quotes of the day

[T]oo often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold — at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him.

That’s why, later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country

[T]he President’s habit of ignoring the law as written hurts our economy and jobs even more. Washington taxes and regulations always make it harder for private sector employers to meet payrolls, invest in new initiatives and create jobs — but how can those employers plan, invest and grow when the laws are changing on the President’s whim at any moment?…

There must be accountability.


Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School, said Republicans could find the best chance to have their case heard if it targets the Affordable Care Act, particularly because language negotiated by Congress has being changed by the administration, opening up a balance of powers question…

“If the lawsuit comes out as a peddler’s wagon with every possible grievance against the president, it will have a poor chance of success,” he said. “The more issues that are piled into these lawsuits the more it looks like a political question.”

Boehner mentioned the House’s prior attempts to check Obama’s power, but complained in his CNN op-ed that the Senate has yet to act. That kind of an argument is not likely to convince a court to give a case standing, said Greg Magarian, professor of law at Washington University of St. Louis.

The irony, then, could be that the very dysfunction Obama uses to justify skirting Congress would be the case’s undoing; the courts could hold that Congress is simply too dysfunctional to defend itself against a powerful executive.


John Boehner would never cop to it, but his pending lawsuit against President Obama will be the final word on whether the GOP is the party of maximum deportations, including of immigrants eligible for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive—the group of upstanding undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country when they were children known as “Dreamers.”

Boehner will either include the DACA program among his list of the president’s supposedly illegal executive actions, and thus cement his party’s standing as one that represents the reactionary anti-immigrant minority in the country; or he’ll leave DACA out, giving tacit consent to the program and infuriating the anti-immigrant faction of his own conference…

Immigration enforcement is the biggest outstanding issue, and the one that most animates the GOP base. Last year, House Republicans passed a bill that would defund DACA. Leaving it out of the lawsuit would run at odds with all of the GOP’s past actions. But including it—suing the president to deport Dreamers—would doom the party’s already floundering efforts to rehabilitate its standing in immigrant communities.


While the legal case for suing Obama over DACA may be strong, I highly doubt someone as sympathetic to immigration reform as Boehner would choose that issue to sue Obama over. Instead I’d bet on two other possibilities.

1) Obama’s No Child Left Behind rewrite. Covered in more detail here, Obama essentially rewrote President Bush’s NCLB law in 2011 to match his own Race to the Top education policies whose own legal authority had expired with the end of the stimulus program. Obama is currently using his rewritten version of NCLB to force Common Core curriculum on schools nationwide. Given the bipartisan opposition to elements of Race to the Top and Common Core, this would be a definite possibility.

2) The Obamacare employer mandate delay. Also covered in more detail here, Obama’s decision not to enforce the job killing employer mandate to buy health insurance is exactly the kind of “benevolent suspension” of the law this novel theory of congressional standing was designed to counteract. This issue would rile up the Republican base and put an almost universally despised policy on trial.


But what few point out is that in an attempt to marginalize Congressional Republicans with whom he disagrees, he’s simultaneously managed to marginalize Congressional Democrats as well.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats have complained about a variety of presidential runs around Congress – including military intervention in Libya, withholding details of the NSA spying program and an unaccountable drone program, making the Gitmo prisoner exchange for Bowe Bergdahl without informing them, etc.

While going it alone on these things prevented Republicans from challenging the President, it also left Democrats holding a pretty odious bag, which then had to be explained to alarmed constituents back home.

Republicans can perhaps understand why the President has locked them out. But Democrats – many of whom have doggedly defended the President’s controversial and in some cases failed agenda for years – should be equally as offended.


227 years ago, when the founders of the nation set about drafting the constitution, they gave the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate revenue bills and impeach the Executive. That the House would sue the President over his use of executive power is an indication that its leadership no more values their own powers under constitution than the President they sue…

I realize John Boehner and the House Republicans may lack the testicular fortitude to fight President Obama, but I would kindly ask that he save the taxpayers further money on a political stunt solely designed to incite Republican voters who might otherwise stay home given the establishment’s bungling of Mississippi and abandonment of their constitutionally derived powers.

John Boehner’s lawsuit is nothing more than political theater and a further Republican waste of taxpayer dollars. If the Republican leaders in the House are too chicken to use their constitutional powers to rein in the President, they should just call it a day and go home.


Think about this for just a second: House Republicans are using taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit against a President who has literally done not only what every president before him has done but has done it less often and is doing so now only because House Republicans repeatedly refuse to even vote on legislation, let alone pass anything.

And you have the gall to accuse the President of being the one in violation of the Constitution?…

Some 57% of Americans supported his administrative relief for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States when they were children. And according to a poll conducted by the LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, 73% of Americans support an executive order to ban discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

If House Republicans don’t like these executive orders, then pass immigration reform and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Don’t sue the President. Passing laws that our nation wants and needs is doing your job. Suing the President just because you don’t like him is irresponsible partisan petulance.


Daring the American people to stop him? We had that chance twice – as recently as 2012. Obama won the popular vote then by 5 million voters and the electoral college vote by 126. Was the problem paramount in the public’s collective mind to be solved by the election an administration on the loose or a society desperately seeking one person who would do something about the problems that beset them? Problems which, by the way, most fair minded folks would agree did not derive with the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It’s a time-tested feature of the American Presidency that holders of the office are judged by what they do for people and not how they do it. Lincoln is remembered in the consciousness of the public for ending the Civil War not suspending habeas corpus. FDR is lionized for the New Deal and his leadership against fascism not the court-packing plan. And even ol’ unpopular ‘W” himself has received a popularity renaissance of sorts for his efforts to combat terrorism with hardly a mention of the dubious methods he employed. Why would the public in the last two elections be looking for anything different? Give us someone who can bring about positive change in Washington and the society it oversees was the order from the populace…

So Obama acts alone. Constitutional? We’ll see, but, the structural problem remains. Can the voters fix it? Maybe, they did in 1948, but the country was less polarized along ideological lines. A recipe for disaster? Probably and one not likely to be fixed no matter how the conservative dominated Supreme Court rules. And action to address the nation’s woes? Well, that seems to be neither the concern of the court, nor the Congress, and, for well-articulated doctrinal reasons, perhaps not even the President’s. So who is charged with performing the duties of the Constitution? Perhaps it’s just us.


Any Republican attempt at impeachment would go up against a stacked deck. And the GOP would be throwing away a winning hand for a losing one.

For while the American people have shown no interest in impeaching Obama, they are coming to believe they elected an incompetent executive and compulsive speechmaker who does not know what the presidency requires and who equates talk with action.

With the economy shrinking 3 percent in the first quarter, with Obama sinking in public approval, and with the IRS, NSA and VA scandals bubbling, why would Republicans change the subject to impeachment?

The effect would be to enrage and energize the Democratic base, bring out the African-American vote in force and cause the major media to charge the GOP with a racist scheme to discredit and destroy our first black president.


Presidential regimes invite executive dominance by combining the roles of “head of state” and “head of government” in one figure. “As heads of government,” Buckley writes, “presidents are the most powerful officials in their countries. As heads of state, they are also their countries’ ceremonial leaders,” and claim “the loyalty and respect of all patriots.” Where parliamentary systems cleave off power from ceremony, presidential ones make the chief executive the living symbol of nationhood: the focal point of national hopes, dreams, fears—and occasionally fantasies…

The PM’s Question Time is but one facet of the superior executive accountability offered by parliamentary systems, Buckley argues. Such systems, he maintains, also do a better of restraining executives’ proclivity for launching wars…

Finally, parliamentary systems do better on the ultimate question of accountability: They make it easier to “throw the bum out” if all else fails. “Prime ministers may be turfed out at any time by a majority in the House of Commons”; they can also be replaced by their party without bringing down the government. Presidents serve for fixed terms, and since we’ve never, in 225 years, successfully used the impeachment process to remove one, anyone who’s not demonstrably crazy or catatonic gets to ride out his term. We’re stuck with the guy, thanks to our peculiar system of separated powers.

That system isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s not even what the Framers wanted, Buckley argues. Madison’s Virginia Plan featured an executive chosen by the legislature. The Framers repeatedly rejected the idea of a president elected by the people—that option failed in four separate votes in Philadelphia.


The political slogan of “no compromise” has migrated into legal strategy with disastrous results. That is precisely what happened in the recess appointments decision in NLRB vs. Canning. I testified on the President’s recess appointments in Congress after they were made and said that the nominations in my view were flagrantly unconstitutional.

The fact that the administration decided to force a confrontation on such a weak case shows not just a lack of judgment but a cavalier attitude towards the costs of such losses. While he clearly has authority to set enforcement priorities in areas like immigration law, Obama has repeatedly stepped well over the line of separation…

While Obama did not create the uber-presidency, he has pushed it to a new level of autonomy and authority. It is a model that Democrats may soon regret. Just as Obama has unilaterally rewritten federal laws and ordered the nonenforcement of others, the next President could use the same authority to gut environmental or employment discrimination laws. An uber-President is only liberating when he is your uber-President.


Via Reason TV.