Politics & Policy

Congress Stands Athwart Obama’s Imperial Presidency

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution reads very clearly: The president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The take-care clause is a bulwark against tyranny. It supports the separation of powers stipulated in the Constitution: The legislative branch makes law and the executive branch administers it.

There was a time not so long ago when everyone — even President Obama — understood this. Twenty-two times the president has said that he could neither ignore the law nor create his own.

Then on November 20, 2014, he announced that he had changed his mind. Through executive action, he unilaterally negated current immigration law and granted to millions of illegal immigrants blanket immunity from deportation.

He said that his decision rested on politics. As his argument went, because Congress would not give him what he wanted, after a long enough period of time he had the right to act as he wanted alone. But the Constitution doesn’t grant the president a frustration loophole. His defense of his actions is constitutionally irrelevant.

#share#Unfortunately, we live in a dangerous time, and many of our nation’s elected representatives accepted the president’s argument, implicitly consenting to his subversion of congressional authority by refusing to block the president’s actions. It seems they are happy to hand Congress’s constitutional powers to the president as long as the policy that gets enacted suits them. Both finalists for the Democratic presidential nomination agreed as well. One even said that she would go further than President Obama.

Immigration is obviously an important issue, and the president’s action is wrong on its merits. But this is about much more than immigration. In fact, it doesn’t matter what side of the issue you’re on. This flagrant attempt to strip from Congress the power to legislate is an affront to self-rule and undermines the liberty of the American people. The Constitution clearly does not grant the president unilateral authority to ignore the law of the land.

#related#Shortly after President Obama announced his immigration action, dozens of states filed a lawsuit against the administration. The case, United States v. Texas, has made its way to the Supreme Court, which recognized the gravity of the situation and determined to study whether the president violated the constraints of his Article II powers.

To push back against the president and restore a proper separation of powers, the House is taking an unprecedented step. We will authorize the speaker of the House to file an amicus brief on behalf of the House of Representatives, sending the Court a clear message that this is more than an ordinary political fight. With our vote, the House will make it clear that we think what the president has done directly infringes on Congress’s Article I powers and undermines our representative republic.

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