Skip to comments.Obama's Power Grab Not Without Precedent
Posted on 01/29/2014 9:09:49 AM PST by Kaslin
In the build up to Tuesday night's State of the Union address, Obama administration officials had increasingly referenced the president's intention to utilize a "pen and phone" strategy to pursue his liberal agenda, relying on executive orders in place of the often difficult process of negotiating with congress.
Mr. Obama, obviously frustrated by his administration's inability to fully accomplish its legislative objectives, had sought to cast Republicans as the sole impediment standing between his policies and a flourishing economy.
What he had failed to acknowledge, however, was his own inability to build support for his legislative priorities among either members of congress or the American people.
In his State of the Union address, Mr. Obama made little mention of the need for working across the aisle to engage his ideological adversaries.
Instead, Obama asserted that, when he deemed necessary, he would bypass the legislative process and instead utilize the seemingly ever expanding power of the executive pen.
Obama said, America does not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, thats what Im going to do."
The president's movement toward enhancing the power of the executive at the expense of congress has angered many. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) lamented, "The Obama administration has been so brazen in its attempts to expand federal power that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Justice Department's efforts to expand federal power nine times since January 2012.
Mr. Obama's pivot away from the constitutional prerogatives of congress in favor of a more unilateral approach to managing government is not the first such effort on the part of a chief executive to wrest control from a separate but co-equal branch of government.
Next week marks the 77th anniversary of the announcement of Franklin Roosevelt's proposed Judiciary Reorganization Bill. Frustrated by the Supreme Court having invalidated multiple elements of his signature New Deal, FDR sought to pass legislation through the heavily Democrat-controlled congress that would allow him to fundamentally alter the makeup of the Supreme Court and pack the Court with judges more sympathetic to his New Deal endeavors.
The plan called for allowing the president to appoint an additional justice to the Supreme Court for every sitting justice over the age of 70. Given the makeup of the Supreme Court at the time this would have allowed Roosevelt to appoint an additional 6 justices.
As the constitution made no provision for the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Roosevelt's scheme was not seen as overtly unconstitutional. It was, however, seen a brazen attempt to circumvent the constitution's inherent system of checks and balances and it was met with immediate criticism.
Jeff Shesol, author of Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt v The Supreme Court, stated that upon learning of FDR's plan, even members of his own administration reacted with incredulity. "John Nance Garner, who was Roosevelt's vice president, went back with him to Capitol Hill, stood in the well of the Senate and, as the plan was read aloud to the senators, Garner held his nose and gestured thumbs down, said Shesol.
As debate over FDR's court packing scheme intensified in the ensuing months, the public grew increasingly unsupportive of his idea. Although personally popular, FDRs attempt to pack the court with political cronies was seen as far more offensive than was the court having invalidated many of FDRs legislative undertakings.
In an article for the American Political Science Review, author Gregory Caldeira wrote that the central debate had less to do with the specifics of New Deal legislation, rather, "FDR's proposal forced the public to choose between the widely approved policies of an extremely popular president and the institutional integrity of a controversial Supreme Court."
The public ultimately supported the maintenance of governmental checks and balances and soured on FDRs attempt to inflate the power of the presidency at the expense of the judiciary.
Following a series of influential events that included the retirement of Justice Willis Van Devanter as well as the Courts validation of the Wagner Act, a significant piece of Roosevelts New Deal, an amended version of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill was passed on August 26, 1937, having been stripped of its most contentious elements, including the increase in Supreme Court justices.
President Obama, himself enjoying far less public support than FDR in his day, ought take a hard look at history and consider a renewed attempt at building consensus through leadership rather than opting for the imperious approach of governing through executive fiat.
Pens and phone calls may allow for the easier implementation of Mr. Obamas agenda but it would be inconsistent with the Founder's intent of a government predicated upon, among other things, the separation of powers.
Understandably, the public at times becomes frustrated by warring factions in Washington but it will always opt on the side of maintaining institutional integrity over the whims of a frustrated executive. Mr. Obama should accept that reality and understand that leading a divided government often requires conciliation, not an aggrandized executive.
remember, when Obama came to USA he found exactly one USA president he liked, FDR. FDR was (in-)famous for his almost-daily power grabs....
Oh No, not the Lib’s, NAACP’s, O’s Saint FDR.
Here is another President that Obama is LIKE. And Obama helped put this one in power. (Since removed by citizen outrage)
Evidence on Mohamed Mursis direct link to terror acts in Egypt
If you can read this and not conclude the direct link between Obama, Muslim Brotherhood Terrorists and Morsi (Mursi in Egypt), then you would have to be totally blind. And the common disdain for any an all constitutional restraint.
God Help the US.
So, Bammy is really like Lincoln?
The key difference being that Congress was willing to stand up to FDR in defense of the Constitution. Not so with Obozo.
Unless that "public" is black. Sorry, but let's call it like it is. Race matters. It matters to Obama and it matters to all of his little robots. Just listen to what they say. They are proud of it and ANYTHING he does. No matter how heinous or extra-Constitutional. As if those morons could even begin to understand what is in the Constitution. They'd have to care first.
We will know he is serious when he starts talking about creating PROFITS in the business sector. PROFIT is a dirty word to communists and progressives. Only PROFIT will expand the economy and lift us back to full employment
PROFITS. Nothing else will do it. Not stimuli, not unemployment charity, not food stamps. Only PROFIT gets businesses hiring again.
Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to expand federal power nine times since January 2012.
The progressives who support him will live on their knees for ever when he gains full power with their help.
The author is entirely correct about the president’s failure to build support in Congress. The president must either convince enough legislators to support his goals or compromise with the opposition to build a voting majority. It appears President Obama is incapable of doing either.
In regards to President Obama using executive orders, I don’t know all of the laws in question, but most laws are written with exceptions. Obamacare, for example, gives the executive branch very broad discretion to decide what’s covered. The president is walking a fine line to be sure, but I think some of these executive orders are within his authority under the law.
A person would have to study the particular law in question to see if it gives the president wiggle room. I blame Congress for writing overly broad laws. Consider the EPA. Congress probably never thought CO2 would be defined as a pollutant, but that’s all it took to give the chief executive the power to do all sorts of mischief, like regulating coal plants out of existence.
I should add that my post doesn’t concern the constitutionality of any of the proposed executive orders. That’s an entirely different matter, and all three branches of government are guilty of ignoring the constitution.
What he wants to do is destroy this great nation. Destroying the economy is just one part of it
No, he isn’t.
What he said was: I am going to become Dictator no matter what you say. I have a pen. I will sign an executive order that says I am now dictator and that is for life. And there is nothing you can do about it. I have more guns and more armed troops than you do.
He should remember though what is done to dictators during the times of history and it's not nice
Dinesh D’Souza was absolutely right: Obama, trying to find himself after a dysfunctional childhood, has decided that he is the post-colonial avenger.
Any American black (and Obama is NOT an American black man) can be coopted into this because of the African connection and because they were for the most part brought here unwillingly; the fact that even the most wretched black person here lives better and has more opportunity than virtually anybody in Africa somehow disappears in Obama’s upper-class “post-colonial” leftist rage. But blacks in general are too undereducated and too indoctrinated by the leftists to understand this.
“I have more guns and more armed troops than you do.”
No he's not. That constitutes slander/libel of the greatest Republican.
And their sick churches and phony-baloney preachers cheer his every move to promote homosexuality and atheism.
Reminds me of an Austrian fellow. I think you know the one.