Barack Obama’s biographers often refer to the president’s experience as a constitutional lawyer with pride. If that’s so, he has to be the most unconstitutional constitutional lawyer in our nation’s history. His tenure as president isn’t remarkable for his adherence to the constitution’s language and intent, but rather for his record of squirreling his way around its provisions. But we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Early 20th century Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes may have written many well-reasoned, scholarly legal opinions in his career, but he’ll always be remembered for stating in a 1907 speech that “the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” Taking his cue from Justice Hughes, Obama told an interviewer in 2001 that the Warren court (noted for its sweeping civil rights opinions) failed in not taking up the issue of “redistribution of wealth.” The interview took place at a Chicago public radio station when Obama was an Illinois state senator.
What wealth redistribution issue was he talking about? This issue neither came before the court, nor should it have. “Wealth redistribution” is contained nowhere in the Constitution or its 27 amendments. Moreover, when drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson rejected John Locke’s notion of “life, liberty and property” as being the essential rights of man. He substituted “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The point is, we don’t have the right to own property unless we’ve acquired it through the legal means of purchase, gift or inheritance.
A friend recently sent me a post titled, “The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting,” which dealt with Obama’s end-run around Congress on amnesty for illegal aliens. When Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, the Department of Homeland Security, with the president’s apparent encouragement, issued a memorandum urging the waiver of prosecution against various classes of illegals. This is but one of a long list of examples where the president has circumvented the legislative process.
When “cap and trade” (the American Clean Energy and Security Act) was approved in the House but failed in the Senate, the president was undeterred. He issued an executive order authorizing theEnvironmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. It has since expanded its reach to include even farmland dust emissions.
When the Senate failed to approve “card check” (officially, the Employee Free Choice Act), which would have eliminated the secret ballot in union elections, the president didn’t simply sit back and take his lumps. Early this year, the National Labor Relations Board threatened to sue states, which were then considering bills guaranteeing secret union ballots. Barack Obama then took it further and enacted “card check” by presidential decree.
Following the president’s lead, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., suggested that the president take “extra-constitutional action” to pass his controversial jobs bill. Apparently, bypassing the constitution has become so commonplace in this administration that Mr. Jackson thinks it’s no big deal.
In an earlier post in this publication, I referred to the president as “an American Caesar.” Clearly, nothing has happened since then to alter that perception.
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