President Obama’s New Years Resolution to bypass Congress and step up his preferred rule-by-fiat form of government seems to be right on track and gaining speed.
The definition of fiat: an arbitrary decree or pronouncement, especially by a person or group of persons having absolute authority to enforce it, such as a king.
During his first Cabinet meeting of 2014, President Obama declared, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”
He explained, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need.”
The trend continued with the President’s State of the Union speech.
During his SOTU speech, Obama promised, “I’ll act on my own.”
Regarding gun control, Obama warned he’d act, “with or without Congress.”
And in a sweeping statement, Obama pledged, “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
On Wednesday, February 19, during a stroll with French President Hollande, Obama remarked, “That’s the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.”
President Obama “may think he is king, he may declare he’s a king, but that’s not what he is under the Constitution,” said Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman.
In an Op-Ed for Forbes, Ilya Shapiro points out that President Obama has been “most frustrated with the separation of powers, which doesn’t allow him to fundamentally transform the country without congressional acquiescence.”
But thankfully the United States is not a monarchy. As Benjamin Franklin announced in 1787 following the Constitutional Convention, we have “a Republic, if you can keep it.”
For 227 years we have kept it; but now the balance of power that was specifically built in to our Constitution to avoid the abuse inherent in a monarchy is being diluted, threatened and even ignored by this President.
As long as Congress allows it, this President will continue to rule by fiat. Democrats are totally on board with Obama, and they are now encouraging him to step up the pace of his unilateral decrees. With this mindset, imagine the damage that this President could inflict during his remaining three years.
President Obama may indeed have a pen and a telephone, but Republicans have the Constitution. The question is: How can they enforce it? And will they?
With the Senate under the control of Democrats, who are enthusiastically aiding and abetting their President, Republicans seem at a loss as to how to stop the abuse.
What are the options?
1) House Resolution
There has been a Resolution filed in the House by Tom Rice (R-SC) titled Stop This Overreaching Presidency, or STOP, Act (HR442). At last count it had 74 sponsors. The Resolution directs the House “to bring a civil action for declaratory or injunctive relief to challenge certain policies and actions taken by the executive branch.”
What will the effect of this House Resolution be? A simple resolution requires only the approval of one chamber and expresses the sentiment of that body. It does not require the signature of the President, nor does it have the force of law. However, if a majority of the House approves the Resolution, it would authorize a civil lawsuit against President Obama in federal court. Legal standing under Article III of the Constitution would still be required, however.
2) Appropriations Clause
Another option for Congress is the power of the purse. Laid out in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1, the Appropriations Clause provides Congress with the mechanism to limit spending by the federal government. Denying funding through Congressional action is one alternative being proposed by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). During an interview with Megyn Kelly, Senator Lee said, “James Madison talked about this in Federalist 57, and he said that when the President abuses his power, the best thing Congress can do is withhold funding for the president.”
3) Lawsuit by a private entity
Yet another option is for a private individual or entity to sue the federal government under Article III of the Constitution. In order for a plaintiff to have standing in such a lawsuit, the Supreme Court has ruled that a party must show “direct injury as the result of the statute’s enforcement, and not merely that he suffers in some indefinite way common with people generally.” An insurance company, for example, may be able to prove damages due to the President’s changes to the Affordable Care Act.
What about impeachment? David Catron, writing for The American Spectator, states, “It is the duty of the House of Representatives to impeach Obama.” In the oath of office, every member of Congress pledges to defend the Constitution, and as Catron points out, Obama is guilty of “serial violations of the Constitution.”
Impeachment is similar to an indictment in a criminal court and requires only a simple majority in the House of Representatives. It is true that in order to remove a President from office that you must have a two-thirds majority of the Senate to convict him of the charges brought by the House.
The question then becomes, as it has with each and every issue, if Republicans don’t have the votes, should they allow the President to ignore the Constitution and abuse the powers of the presidency?
Regardless of whether the votes are there, the Constitution must be defended. So what do our Congressmen have to say? It’s time we start asking.