Tuesday, January 03, 2012
After Christmas most Senators went on break for Christmas. But officially, some Senators have stayed in town and held regular meetings every other day in order to stay in session. In fact Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid has kept the Senate in pro forma session so as the Senate was not in a recess.
Now, President Obama wanted to fill a vacancy during this time. The problem was that the Senate was not in Recess. The Senate Majority Leader must declare a recess. The Constitution grants these powers to the President and Senate.
Article II says:
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Here, there was no recess. In fact, the Senate stated that it was not in recess, and the White House fired back, no you aren't.
Never before has a President ignored the Senate and declared himself, that in his opinion, the Senate was in recess. In doing so, he declared that he could fill some vacancies that he could not have otherwise pushed through. I have a feeling democrats will lay down and take it from Obama because he is in their party. But they shouldn't.
Republicans and Democrats have used recess appointments to place people into positions they never would have been able to get through the Senate. President George W. Bush most notably did this with the Hawkish John Bolton putting him in as the chief United States UN diplomat. But later on in Bush's term, the Congress went into pro forma sessions to prevent Bush from doing so with other recess appointments.
Obama has acted unilaterally to redefine the Constitution. This is a frightening power grab by a president that has already shown little regard for Constitutional rights. First he passed a healthcare mandate on all of us, then he assassinated a U.S. citizen without due process, now he has simply decided to ignore the U.S. Senate, which his party controls!
The historical argument against such a grab can best be articulated here:
This latest overreach comes on the heels of the President assassinating U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, without Due Process of Law, as he was deemed to be a "terrorist".
Many of my friends on the right gave President Bush a free pass on the Patriot Act, wiretapping and other unconstitutional overreaches when it suited their political needs. Likewise, only cricket chirping can be heard where democrat outrage should be heard over American assassinations and executive overreaches being committed by the President.
Whether these attacks on our nation come from the right or the left, we as citizens have to stand up and say, "NO YOU CAN'T" when Obama or Bush or anyone else does something like this.
Obviously, the Due Process issue is a much more serious issue than recess vacancies, but the principle holds true. We need to stop this man from acting unilaterally, whether it is without the Courts or without the Legislature. He isn't king, he doesn't get to call these shots free from checks and balances.
I have been waiting to hear outrage from the Senate. Instead I hear weak men like Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) coming out in support of the President.
I hate to think that upholding the Constitution has been relegated to only the far right and left. But sadly, that seems the case.
The al-Awlaki assassination discussion isn't going away, but this vacancy issue probably will. Unfortunately, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate will probably let Obama do what he wants here.
But I would caution the left that this cuts both ways. In a few years, although Obama will be living comfortably in Chicago, the rest of the country will be living with a republican president. I wonder how the left will feel if the President makes recess appointments even as the Senate is in session. How far can this be stretched? Can the next president make Supreme Court nominations? Treasury Secretaries? Can he put Ron Paul in as Federal Reserve Chairman? Or as a redstate contributor noted, Jay Sekulow in as a Supreme Court Justice? Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.