Peter Thomas and Charles Orndorff
President Obama’s unprecedented usurpation of legislative authority requires immediate action to save the Constitution. Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) has provided the proper remedy with his Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP) resolution. The US House of Representatives has a constitutional responsibility to pass and implement STOP.
STOP is a house resolution that would authorize the House to file suit regarding several examples of the President’s failure to follow his constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”.
A vital feature of STOP is that it can be carried out by the House of Representatives alone. It does not require the concurrence of the Senate. It does not allow the President an opportunity for a veto. STOP, and STOP alone, allows the House to take unilateral and effective action to restore constitutional limits on the presidency.
Obama has treated the Affordable Care Act as if it were written on an etch-a-sketch, rewriting it to suit his own purposes rather than recommending changes to Congress. He has also exempted millions of illegal aliens from deportation, giving them a de facto amnesty after Congress refused to pass any form of amnesty bill. He has granted state waivers which undermine the workfare provisions of the 1996 welfare reform act.
STOP would allow the House to file suit against any or all of these refusals to enforce the law. It would call on the Federal courts to rule on whether the Constitution means what is says in Article I, section 1, that “all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress”, not shared between Congress and the President.
If the Federal judges accept the Constitution as written, they would have no choice but to rule that President Obama has violated his executive responsibility and must begin to enforce the laws that have been passed by Congress. He would no longer be allowed to make exceptions, hand out waivers, or grant suspensions except where such flexibility is allowed by the text of the law.
The basic structure of our Constitution, with the separation of powers as a key element, is in greater danger than ever before. No other president has so consistently ignored Congress and usurped legislative powers.
In fact, STOP does not even come close to listing all of Obama’s constitutional violations. The President has made “recess appointments” when the Senate was in session. He has approved the Justice Department policy of refusing to enforce certain drug laws. He continued to send foreign aid to Egypt in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act.
Witnesses at the December 3, 2013 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee gave devastating testimony against President Obama. Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned that “President Barack Obama has crossed the constitutional line between discretionary enforcement and defiance of federal law. Congress is given the defining function of creating and amending federal law. This is more than a turf fight between politicians. The division of governmental powers is designed to protect liberty by preventing the abusive concentration of power. All citizens –Democratic or Republican or Independent – should consider the inherent danger presented by a President who can unilaterally suspend laws as a matter of presidential license.”
Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute pointed out that “President Obama’s unfaithfulness to the PPACA is so wanton, it is no longer accurate to say the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is ‘the law of the land.’ Today, with respect to health care, the law of the land is whatever one man says it is.”
Law Professor Nicholas Rosenkranz described the President’s decision to suspend the employer mandate of ObamaCare as “a wholesale suspension of law, in the teeth of a clear statutory command to the contrary. Whatever it may mean to ‘Take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” it simply cannot mean declining to execute a law at all.”
The time for action is now. The STOP resolution provides the means for the House to act. There should be no more delay.
Peter Thomas and Charles Orndorff are the Chairman and Administrative Vice Chairman of Americans for Constitutional Liberty (formerly The Conservative Caucus), a grass roots action organization founded in 1974.