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As Long as We Remember...

April 6, 2012

Mr. Obama’s Constitution

Joe Charlebois

The three branches of government are not co-equal; they have distinct differences and powers afforded them by the Constitution of the United States. The fact that as candidate Sen. Barack Obama campaigned on them as co-equal and many American students learn the same lesson doesn’t necessarily make it so.


The Constitution places the most power in the hands of the legislative branch. Then, in terms of power, the executive branch holds sway. Lastly in terms of power the Judicial Branch is third. Truly we do not have “co-equal” branches of government as taught in school, but rather a system of checks and balances that keep any one branch from wielding unharnessed power over the people that it serves.


President Obama this week revealed himself to be nothing more than a political hit man as he took aim on the Supreme Court of the United States attempting to weaken any possible ruling that may not go in his favor.


As a purported constitutional lawyer and teacher, Mr. Obama intentionally mislead millions of uninformed Americans on the ability of the Supreme Court to use the precedent of judicial review to overturn legislation passed by Congress, signed by the president but still deemed unconstitutional by a majority of the Supreme Court justices. His Department of Justice on Thursday officially retreated from Mr. Obama’s comments and does stand solidly behind the concept of judicial review.


But, in the political arena, the Supreme Court’s reputation will be tarnished in the mind of the president’s supporters and those citizens who are ill informed.


Mr. Obama knows the political landscape is daunting, and he is preparing for what he can sense will be coming this summer as the Supreme Court issues its ruling on this landmark healthcare case. He is aware from the testimony presented – and the untenable position that his Solicitor General was put in defending The Affordable Health Care for America Act – that the legislation is likely to be overturned by the justices.


With his only real accomplishment looking as if it will end up in the dustbin of history, he is looking to create a convenient bogeyman to campaign against this fall. The Supreme Court fits the bill quite nicely as it is unlikely to present any type of defense against the president’s attacks.


Of course, this isn’t the first time the president publically questioned the Supreme Court with the intention of diminishing the validity of its rulings. He intentionally set to discredit its opinion on the most public of stages while speaking to the American people in his State of the Union speech of 2010.  The justices, who were in attendance – directly in front of him – were left to sit silently or shake their heads in disgust as the president sought to impugn the members of the court who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.


Not only has the president shown a thorough lack of respect and exhibited a condescending and dismissive attitude toward the court, he has also run roughshod over Congress as well.


Mr. Obama, in desperation, decided to go around the Congress and abused the president’s prerogative to make recess appointments in an unconstitutional manner. In a pro forma session of the Senate – one in which the Senate does remain in session – Mr. Obama appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as appointing Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the National Labor Relations Board at a later time during another pro forma session.


These appointments are not a trivial political game; they are a real attack on the separation of powers. The Senate is charged with the responsibility to give “advise and consent” to any presidential nominee. The use of a recess appointment is intended for use when it is impossible for the Senate to approve a nominee in a situation that is urgent. Neither of these situations met that requirement.


Critics of previous presidents – including then Sen. Barack Obama – have often decried the overreach of power by each administration that has held the Oval Office, many times with good reason.


But as the 44th President of the United States, Mr. Obama has it in his mind that even though he ran on the concept of co-equal branches of government, he clearly sees the presidency as the most powerful branch of the three. Flush with the power that is afforded the chief executive, he has exhibited an appetite to expand the executive’s powers and diminish those of Congress and the Supreme Court.


Each branch of our government has its own role. This president has a different view of what his constitutional role is and what it will be should he be re-elected this fall.


If he is re-elected, he will attempt to rewrite the role of the presidency in his own vision.


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