The United States was born when rebellious colonists declared their independence from an imperial ruler who had vastly overstepped his bounds. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States,” they wrote in their Declaration of Independence.
Today’s presidency lacks the regal air of George III. But imperialism is back, in a big way.
Last week, the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum instructing U.S. immigration officials to use their “prosecutorial discretion” to create a policy scheme contrary to existing law, designed to implement legislation that Congress hasn’t passed.
The President himself has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to do this. “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting, I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how our system works,” he told Hispanic activists last year. “That’s not how our democracy functions.”
We can now see before us a persistent pattern of disregard for the powers of the legislative branch in favor of administrative decision-making without—and often in spite of—congressional action. This violates the spirit—and potentially the letter—of the Constitution’s separation of the legislative and executive powers of Congress and the President.
- Even though the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, his Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
- After the Employee Free Choice Act—designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
- After an Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, even despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
- Although Congress consistently has barred the Department of Education from getting involved in curriculum matters, the Administration has offered waivers for the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, all without congressional authorization.
Likewise, the Administration has often simply refused to enforce laws duly enacted by Congress:
- Since it objects to existing federal immigration laws, the Administration has decided to apply those laws selectively and actively prevent the state (like Arizona) from enforcing those laws themselves.
- Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
- DOJ also has announced that it would stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act or defending it from legal challenge rather than seeking legislative recourse.
On Tuesday, the President invoked executive privilege to avoid handing over some 1,300 documents in an ongoing Congressional investigation. The Supreme Court has held that executive privilege cannot be invoked to shield wrongdoing. Is that what’s happening in this case? “Congress needs to get to the bottom of that question to prevent an illegal invocation of executive privilege and further abuses of power. That will require an index of the withheld documents and an explanation of why each of them is covered by executive privilege—and more,” Heritage legal scholar Todd Gaziano writes.
Earlier this year the President crossed the threshold of constitutionality when he gave “recess appointments” to four officials who were subject to Senate confirmation, even though the Senate wasn’t in recess. Gaziano wrote at the time that such appointments “would render the Senate’s advice and consent role to normal appointments almost meaningless. It is a grave constitutional wrong.”
There is no telling where such disregard may go next, but the trend is clear, and it leads further and further away from the constitutional rule of law.
The President has unique and powerful responsibilities in our constitutional system as chief executive officer, head of state, and commander in chief. Those powers do not include the authority to make laws or to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore. The President – like judges or Members of Congress – takes an oath to uphold the Constitution in carrying out the responsibilities of his office.
Indeed, the President takes a unique oath, pledging he “shall faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” We don’t need a new Declaration of Independence, but we do need a President who will defend and vigorously exert his or her legitimate powers, recognizing that those powers are not arbitrary or unlimited.
Dr. Matthew Spalding is the Vice President for American Studies and Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation. He is also the author of We Still Hold These Truths.
- Fast And Furious: Executive Privilege Is Illegitimate to Shield Wrongdoing (heritage.org)
- NAPOLITANO: Can Obama rewrite federal law? – Washington Times (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Cagle Post ” It’s Nice to be Emperor (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama’s policy strategy: Ignore laws (givemeliberty01.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Assertion Of Executive Privilege And The Law (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Fast and Furious: Covering up the Death of a U.S. Agent (papundits.wordpress.com)
- King Barack (lewrockwell.com)
by Tom Fitton
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2011 list of Washington’s “Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The members of the Obama Administration on the list, in alphabetical order, include:
Dishonorable Mentions for 2011 include:
- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
Attorney General Eric Holder: Attorney General Eric Holder now operates the most politicized and ideological Department of Justice (DOJ) in recent history. And revelations from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal suggest that programs approved by the Holder DOJ may have resulted in the needless deaths of many, including a federal law enforcement officer.
Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels and others, apparently in hopes that the guns would end up at crime scenes. This reckless insanity seems to have resulted in, among other crimes, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout with Mexican criminals in December 2010. Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of his death.
The Fast and Furious operation by itself should have resulted in Holder’s resignation, but it is the cover-up that has prompted serious calls for Holder’s ouster.
On May 3, 2011, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Holder testified: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Newly released documents show he was receiving weekly briefings on Fast and Furious as far back as July 5, 2010. It appears Holder lied to Congress. Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain Fast and Furious records. The Judicial Watch investigation continues.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Holder’s corruption and abuse of office, Fast and Furious is just the tip of the iceberg.
On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ lawyers would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as applied to homosexual couples. DOMA had passed Congress by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. President Clinton signed the act into law on September 21, 1996.
Judicial Watch filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the DOJ (including one on behalf of the Family Research Council) for records related to this pro-homosexual marriage decision. This failure to defend this federal law is unprecedented and raises serious questions as to whether President Obama and Eric Holder are upholding their oaths of office and following the Constitution’s command to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The DOJ continues to stonewall the release of information regarding Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s participation in Obamacare discussions when she served as Solicitor General. In addition to forcing Judicial Watch to file a lawsuit to obtain this information, Holder’s DOJ thumbed its nose at Congress by failing to release this material to the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kagan’s judicial confirmation hearing. Holder continues to personally resist requests from Judicial Watch and Congress for additional information on this controversy. Kagan’s role in these discussions is especially significant now that the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will consider challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare in Spring 2012.
New revelations emerged in 2011 about the DOJ’s Black Panther scandal. Judicial Watch uncovered evidence that the liberal special interest group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) may have had an inappropriate amount of influence on the DOJ’s decision to drop its voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This comes on the heels of sworn testimony that the Civil Rights Division of the Holder DOJ makes enforcement decisions based upon race.
Most recently, Judicial Watch obtained shocking documents suggesting the Holder DOJ is conspiring with scandal-ridden Project Vote (President Obama’s former employer and ACORN front) to use the National Voter Registration Act to increase welfare voter registrations. One former ACORN employee (and current Project Vote Director of Advocacy), Estelle Rogers, is even helping to vet job candidates for the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Division! ACORN and Project Vote have a long record of voter registration fraud.
Seeming to affirm ACORN’s hijacking of the DOJ, Holder recently said in a speech that he plans to use “the full weight” of the agency in 2012 to attack states that are enforcing laws that protect against fraud in the voting booths. This speech ended the pretense that the DOJ is independent from the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign – as it repeated almost verbatim the partisan arguments made by the Democratic Party against voter ID laws.
Holder must go. Pick your reason – Black Panthers, race-based decision making, abandoning the Defense of Marriage Act, Fast and Furious killings and lies, or turning the DOJ into an arm of the radicalized left – but Holder must go.
President Barack Obama: President Obama makes Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted” list for a fifth consecutive year (the former Illinois Senator was also a “Dishonorable Mention” in 2006). And when it comes to Obama corruption, it may not get any bigger than Solyndra. Solyndra was once known as the poster child for the Obama administration’s massive “green energy” initiative, but it has become the poster child for the corruption that ensues when the government meddles in the private sector. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011, leaving 1,100 workers without jobs and the American taxpayers on the hook for $535 million thanks to an Obama administration stimulus loan guarantee.
Despite the Obama administration’s reticence to release details regarding this scandal, much is known about this shady deal. White House officials warned the president that the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program was “dangerously short on due diligence.” Nonetheless, the Obama administration rushed the Solyndra loan through the approval process so it could make a splash at a press event. The company’s main financial backer was a major Obama campaign donor named George Kaiser. While the White House said Kaiser never discussed the loan with White House officials, the evidence suggests this is a lie. And, further demonstrating the political nature of the Obama administration’s activities, the Energy Department pressured Solyndra to delay an announcement on layoffs until after the 2010 elections. Despite the public outrage at this scandalous waste of precious tax dollars, President Obama continues to defend the indefensible and has refused to sack anyone over the Solyndra mess.
President Obama continues to countenance actions by his appointees that undermine the rule of law and constitutional government:
- Despite a ban on funding that Obama signed into law, his administration continues to fund the corrupt and allegedly defunct “community” organization ACORN. In July 2011, Judicial Watch uncovered a $79,819 grant to AHCOA (Affordable Housing Centers of America), the renamed ACORN Housing organization which has a long history of corrupt activity. In absolute violation of the funding ban, Judicial Watch has since confirmed that the Obama administration has funneled $730,000 to the ACORN network, a group that has a long personal history with President Obama.In 2011, JW released a special report entitled “The Rebranding of ACORN,” which details how the ACORN network is alive and well and well-placed to undermine the integrity of the 2012 elections – evidently with the assistance of the Obama administration.
- Barack Obama apparently believes it is his “prerogative” to ignore the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law when it comes to appointing czars. According to Politico: “President Barack Obama is planning to ignore language in the 2011 spending package that would ban several top White House advisory posts.” Obama said this ban on “czars” would undermine “the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In other words, Barack Obama believes he must ignore the U.S. Constitution to protect the U.S. Constitution. Many Obama administration czars have not been subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate as required by the U.S. Constitution. In 2011, JW released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive report on the Obama czar scandal, entitled “President Obama’s Czars.”
- In an historic victory for Judicial Watch and an embarrassing defeat for the Obama White House, a federal court ruled on August 17, 2011 that Secret Service White House visitor logs are agency records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued the decision in Judicial Watch v. Secret Service. The Obama administration now will have to release all records of all visitors to the White House – or explain why White House visits should be kept secret under the law. The Obama White House continues to fight full disclosure and has stalled the release of records by appealing the lower court decision. Judicial Watch gave Obama a “failing grade” on transparency in testimony before Congress in 2011. Read the testimony in full, as well as additional congressional testimony during a hearing entitled “White House Transparency, Visitor Logs and Lobbyists.”
- In 2011, the Obama National Labor Relations Board sought to prevent the Seattle-based Boeing Company from opening a $750 million non-union assembly line in North Charleston, South Carolina, to manufacture its Dreamliner plane. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) showing this lawsuit was politically motivated. Judicial Watch uncovered documents showing NLRB staff cheerleading for Big Labor, mouthing Marxist, anti-American slurs and showing contempt for Congress related to the agency’s lawsuit against Boeing, including email correspondence attacking members of Congress. And it starts at the top. Obama bypassed Congress and recess-appointed Craig Becker–who is connected to the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and ACORN–to the NRLB.
- Obama’s corrupt Chicago dealings continued to haunt him in 2011. Obama’s real estate partner, campaign fundraiser, and Obama pork recipient Antoin “Tony” Rezko was finally sentenced to jail this year, as was former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is now set to serve 14 years for attempting to sell Obama’s former Senate seat to the highest bidder. The FBI continues to withhold from Judicial Watch documents of its historic interview of then-Senator Obama about the Illinois corruption scandal. The FBI interview was conducted in December 2008, about one month before Obama was sworn into the presidency.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: While Attorney General Eric Holder was busy attacking states seeking to protect themselves from uncontrolled illegal immigration in 2011, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presided over a campaign to bypass Congress and provide amnesty to millions of illegal alien lawbreakers, all in an obvious attempt to garner more Hispanic votes for Obama’s reelection.
At first, Napolitano’s campaign was begun in stealth. But in 2011 the Obama administration finally admitted that illegal alien amnesty is now the official policy of the United States of America, courtesy of Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
According to The New York Times:
The Department of Homeland Security will begin a review on Thursday (November 17, 2011) of all deportation cases before the immigration courts and start a nationwide training program for enforcement agents and prosecuting lawyers, with the goal of speeding deportations of convicted criminals and halting those of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record.
Don’t believe for a second DHS’s line that criminal illegal aliens won’t find themselves “outside the department’s priorities.” This is an outright lie.
In 2011, Judicial Watch uncovered documents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proving that immigration officials were urged to use “prosecutorial discretion” to dismiss deportation proceedings against a wide variety of illegal alien criminals — including those convicted of serious crimes such as sexual assault, solicitation of murder, aggravated assault, assaulting a police officer, and kidnapping, as well as numerous drug charges.
And to highlight the depth of this amnesty scheme, consider the case of Carlos Martinelly-Montano, the drunk-driving illegal immigrant from Bolivia who killed a Catholic nun and severely injured two others in Prince William County, Virginia, on August 1, 2010. Napolitano ordered an investigation into Montano’s background but initially refused to release the agency’s findings — until Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit. On March 3, 2011, Judicial Watch finally got hold of the “cleaned up” version of the Homeland Security report (after a lengthy back-and-forth with DHS).
And what did Judicial Watch uncover? Montano should have been deported, but thanks to the illegal alien sanctuary policies of the federal government, local authorities and the courts, he was allowed back onto the streets.
Evidently, Janet Napolitano believes her agency may simply choose to ignore illegal immigration laws to help Obama get reelected. Moreover, the DHS seems more than willing to stonewall and obfuscate in order to conceal its questionable activities. As some key of members of Congress wrote Napolitano:
“This new [backdoor amnesty] policy undermines the rule of law and intrudes on the role of Congress to make the law, while denigrating the role of the executive to carry out the laws enacted by Congress.”
Napolitano’s attempt to rewrite immigration law on her own is an affront to constitutional government.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: What did Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discuss during all of those secret Obamacare meetings she held with Vice President Biden and Big Labor leaders? Obamacare waivers would be an excellent guess.
In September 2011, HHS announced an arbitrary cut-off to waiver applications, which had skyrocketed to 1,472 unions and companies seeking to get out from underneath the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul. At the time of the cut-off, approximately 50% of the waivers granted covered employees of unions, even though union workers represent about 12% of the total workforce!
From the beginning, HHS has kept these waivers shrouded in secrecy. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against HHS on December 30, 2010, and yet the agency refuses to explain to the American people how decisions were made regarding which organizations received or did not receive a waiver.
While HHS was disproportionately doling out waivers to unions, JW also obtained documents from HHS that provide new details on a massive, taxpayer-funded, multimedia campaign designed to promote Obamacare. The total cost of this campaign, which notably targets Obama’s electoral coalition, could reach as much as $200 million over the next five years.
And this is how HHS describes the key to success for this campaign: “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change.” In other words, the Obama administration is paying hired guns a lot of your money to manipulate American taxpayers into “accepting” the Obama way and “changing” their behavior.
This is certainly what HHS was trying to do with a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. As Judicial Watch uncovered through FOIA, the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October 2010. According to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinformed the American people.
And then there’s health care rationing. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS), which is under the auspices of HHS, proposed that Provenge, a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for prostate cancer, be placed under a controversial “review.” After enormous public scrutiny, CMS relented and recommended the potentially lifesaving drug be covered by insurance. According to a Judicial Watch investigation, while the Obama administration claimed the cost of Provenge had nothing to do with their review process, records obtained by JW suggest otherwise (Medicare, the FDA, and private companies are legally prohibited from denying approval of a medical treatment based solely on cost).
And then there is Sebelius’s war on the Catholic Church and other “conservative” religious organizations. Sebelius’s HHS has written Obamacare regulations to punish long-held religious views that don’t comport with liberal ideology and would force hundreds of religious institutions to drop insurance coverage or risk running afoul of Sebelius’s pro-abortion Obamacare regulatory scheme.
The constitutionality of Obamacare may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the meantime, Kathleen Sebelius has turned HHS into a political machine, using underhanded tactics to stack the deck in favor of Obamacare, while greasing Big Labor and other Obama political campaign allies.
- Judicial Watch’s “Most Wanted” Corrupt Politicians for 2011 (wtpotus.wordpress.com)
- The Department of Homeland Security working to keep US Safe? Just ask the DOJ’s Eric Holder! (ireporters.wordpress.com)
- FBI Head Denies ‘Fast and Furious’ Cover-Up, Challenges Darrell Issa’s Theory (huffingtonpost.com)
- New Documents Show Department of Justice Coordination with ACORN-Connected Project Vote (greenmountainscribes.wordpress.com)
- Charles Krauthammer Slams AG Eric Holder For ‘Cowardly Use Of The Race Card’ (mediaite.com)
- Judicial Watch’s ‘Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians’ for 2011: Executive Edition – Big Government (kajunman.wordpress.com)