Google+
Close

Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

President Obama’s Assault on the Constitution



Text  



At noon, 1,146 days ago, President Obama placed his hand on the Bible and swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Sadly, he has not lived up to his oath.

Indeed, for the last three years, President Obama has treated the Constitution as more of an irrelevance than as the Supreme Law of the Land. 

Last week, channeling the specter of FDR, he brazenly tried to bully the Supreme Court into abdicating its duty to the Constitution. In the face of public outcry, he quickly backed away, and the attorney general was forced to send a federal appellate court a written “never mind.” But the shot across the bow of the Court was not unintentional.

This administration is engaged in a systematic effort to draw power into Washington, to expand federal government control of the economy and our lives. From Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to cap-and-trade to the NLRB’s abuse of Boeing, virtually every policy of the Obama administration expands federal government power over our economy.

The Constitution, however, was drafted precisely to prevent such an aggregation of power in Washington, to serve, as Jefferson put it, as “chains to bind the mischief of government.” Although many of its structural limitations have been diluted by activist courts, the Constitution still retains vitality. 

Hence, the Obama administration has endeavored to eliminate those few remaining constraints. Consider five examples.

First, Obamacare itself. When it passed, and Speaker Pelosi was asked about its constitutionality, she famously responded, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” The question to her was simply incomprehensible.

Throughout the course of defending Obamacare, the Justice Department has been unable to answer the simplest question: “What is your limiting principle? If Congress can do this, what can it not do?” Repeatedly, the solicitor general tried to dodge that question, because their true position is that there are no limits whatsoever on federal government authority. 

In my judgment, the Supreme Court will not agree, and will likely strike down the individual mandate in Obamacare. And that is why President Obama attacked the Court last week, just as he did in his earlier State of the Union address — because he hopes to dissuade the Court from remaining faithful to the Constitution. 

Second, President Obama has forced religious institutions to pay for insurance that covers things they abhor, and which they believe transgress the sanctity of life. This has nothing to do with women’s rights or access to contraception; both of which are fully protected under current law. Instead, it is about the religious liberty guaranteed in the Constitution, something to which Obama pays little heed.

Third, he has attempted to make “recess” appointments of federal officers while the Senate was still in session. Here, the text of the Constitution is explicit that such appointments can be made only “during the Recess of the Senate.” But the president’s determination to ignore Congress and the Constitution is equally express:  “When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”

Fourth, he signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which purports to allow the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process of law. We should always remain vigilant in the war on terror, but the Constitution protects the right of habeas corpus — the Great Writ — for our citizens, and the president should not be willing to set it aside.

And fifth, President Obama has refused to enforce federal laws he doesn’t agree with — whether the Defense of Marriage Act, laws allowing offshore drilling in the Gulf, or our nation’s immigration laws. The Constitution expressly charges the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” yet Obama repeatedly abnegates that responsibility.

The Constitution matters, and the president’s effort to undermine its constraints imperils our liberty. I’ve spent a lifetime fighting to defend the Constitution, successfully defending the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Second Amendment, and U.S. sovereignty from the World Court and the U.N. Never, in my judgment, has the Constitution been more in jeopardy. 

The Senate will be the battleground to stop the Obama assault. Across America, citizens are rising up to restore the Constitution, and now is the time for strong conservative fighters in the Senate to stand up to President Obama and to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” 

— Ted Cruz is a former solicitor general of Texas and is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Texas. His website is www.tedcruz.org



Text  


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review