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Obama Ignores US Constitution, or Is He Just Unlawful?

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Let me be perfectly clear here: ALL emphases (italics) are mine, that all wording from the US Constitution remains unchanged, and that I have provided links to specific articles and/or sections.

The US Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. Since then it has been amended 27 times, including the first 10 amendments known as the “Bill of Rights.” Nothing, in any of these 27 amendments, gives the president (any president) the power and/or authority to bypass or ignore Congress, or to ignore the US Constitution.

Article VI states (among other things), that it “…shall be the supreme Law of the Land…” It further states, “…and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution…” Article I, Section 1 states, “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Further, Article I, Section 5 states: “Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.” Article II, Section 1 provides the oath (or affirmation) the president must take before assuming office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Nowhere in my reading of Article I or Article II (or the rest of the US Constitution, for that matter) is there any citation of any executive powers to issue orders and/or resolutions as the president (any president) sees fit, to ignore the US Constitution and the people who elected him. So, with President Barack Hussein Obama’s latest campaign, his “We Can’t Wait” program, is he (1) being unlawful by ignoring the US Constitution, or (2) showing his inability (or unwillingness) to abide by the US Constitution by invoking (hiding behind?) the ” to the best of my Ability” clause of the oath he freely took, or the “may be necessary” clause? Obama, by taking the oath of office, recognized the US Constitution as the law of the land, that he has sworn to support the US Constitution, that Congress exists, and that ANY orders and/or resolutions he offers are, as “may be necessary,” subject to Congress. Does the fact that, according to a December 5-7, 2011, CBS News poll, Obama’s economy approval rating of 33% mean that he is also ignoring the majority of the population?

Regarding his “recess” appointment of Richard Cordray (and others), he has again ignored the US Constitution. In Article I, Section 5, the US Constitution is quite specific: “Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn ….” And since the Senate never adjourned, how, without ignoring the US Constitution, can Obama make a recess appointment?

But that’s just my opinion. Can readers provide a citation(s) in the US Constitution or reason(s) for Obama ignoring the US Constitution? Whether the actions (or, as he claims, inactions) of Congress suit him or not is NOT at issue here. Can readers offer any other alternatives besides the two I have provided? If so, I ask you to offer specific US Constitution citations to support your alternatives. Your PERSONAL opinion, like mine, is worthless. Remember, opinions are like a singular part of the human anatomy, everybody has one.

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  • Glenn Contrarian

    Of course Warren probably wouldn’t want to hear that to date, Obama’s made exactly 29 recess appointments, whereas Reagan made well over two hundred and Dubya made over 150.

    And Warren probably also wouldn’t care that the Republican-controlled House was playing games by keeping the House in session in name only by keeping a GOP representative there each week to gavel out and immediately gavel back the House into session…never mind that except for that sole GOP representative (and they swapped out week by week), every representative had been in recess since well before the Christmas holiday.

    In other words, in REALITY the House had been in recess for weeks…but the GOP was using a parliamentary maneuver with the SOLE intention of preventing recess appointments by the president.

    Warren, it sure would be nice if you’d hold your own boys to the same standard you purport to hold Obama to…but silly me, I forgot! He’s not a red-meat Republican, so he can do absolutely zero right whereas any crap the GOP does should be flatly ignored.

  • An interesting string of quotes from President Obama and others is provided here. It’s strange how views of recess appointments change.

  • pablo

    I wonder how Warren Beatty (not the actor) feels about presidents engaging in warfare without a declaration of war as required by the US Constitution.

  • Re: comment #2, thank you. Dan Miller, for the source you cited. Isn’t it amazing how perspectives change when circumstances change? And I have enjoyed your thoughts at Pajamas Media.

    Re: comment #1, Glenn, why do you insist on living in the past? EVERY comment you make references what happened in the past. Regarding adjournment of Congress, it was NOT, for whatever reason you wish to cite, adjourned – period. Here is a citation in which you may be interested: “…on December 17, the [Democrat controlled] Senate agreed to an order instituting ‘pro forma’ sessions, of the kind the President now claims are actually recess.” So which is it Glenn, recess or not? Plus here is a citation about actions Obama could have taken if he (or his advisors) bothered to read the US Constitution. In Article II, Section 3, of the US Constitution, the president is given the power to adjourn Congress: “…and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper;….” And you made no comment about his “We Can’t Wait” strategy – I’m disappointed!

  • Baronius

    I think I know what this article is about, Warren, but you really should have explained what the “We Can’t Wait” strategy means.

  • pablo

    Of course Warren Beatty does not comment on the requirement in the constitution that only congress can declare war. Typical right wing hypocrite.

  • There are hypocrites galore, Pablo, on both sides of the aisle. Political hacks is my term for ’em. Which is why I stay out of most political discussions here. There seems no point.

    I’ve always took you for a straight shooter, and I try to be one as well.

  • Brisco

    The president’s recess appointment authority is derived from Art.2, Sec 2, clause 3 of the constitution. The 112th Congress has been in recess from shortly before 2011 christmas until 23 Jan 2012.

  • Re: comment #6, pablo, I fail to see how your comment about declaring war furthers your argument. In fact, it strengthens mine, in light of the fact that Obama, without the concent of Congress, got the US into the Lybian war.

    Re: comment #8, Brisco, here is a link which may interest you. Also, please refer to the citations mentioned in comment #4.

  • Pablo wasn’t defending Obama, Warren.

    Quite the contrary!

  • Igor

    Clearly the president has the authority, even the responsibility, to staff an agency that congress has already created. Congress does NOT have veto privilege over any appointee. Yet that is what this obstructionist republican is attempting.

    Clearly, they are using a pretense to block an appointment. Republicans attempts to excuse this bad behavior are simple pettifoggery and don’t deserve credit.

    They are outside of Constitutional privilege.

  • Re: comment #10, roger, I took pablo’s comment in #6, “Typical right wing hypocrite.”, to mean that he found my argument specious. pablo, I apologise if I offended you.

    Re: comment #11, Igor, either you support the ENTIRE Constitution, or you don’t. You do not get to “pick and choose” with what you agree and with what you do not agree. While Congress does not have veto power, they (both houses) do have power to establish their own rules, one of which specified that [the Democrat controlled] Senate had never adjourned. And, via Dan Miller in comment #2, here is a link you may find interesting.

  • Costello

    Obama filled a position and that’s a constitutional crisis? Nitpickers like Warren are a joke and part of this country’s problem. Where are the jobs Republicans suggested they would create if given power in 2010?

  • @12

    No problem. Warren. Pablo is equally critical of all constitutional breaches whether from the Left or the Right.

  • Igor

    12-warren is very naive when he says “…Re: comment #11, Igor, either you support the ENTIRE Constitution, or you don’t. You do not get to “pick and choose” with what you agree and with what you do not agree.”

    But clearly this is wrong, since the constitution and it’s derivations are filled with contraries and contradictions that, in fact, necessitate that people CHOOSE which contrary they support and which they oppose. We clearly make exception to “all men created equal” as convenience and understanding allow.

    Obama is just as entitled to make appointments and have them reviewed and
    approved as Bush was, and, if congress won’t act, to make recess appointments, just as Bush and others have done.

  • Brisco

    Warren (#9). The Congressional Reserarch Service which is the congress’ think tank, has written extensively about the authority behind recess appointment. Here is one link(PDF).

  • Brisco

    Warren, if your article was not subjective you could pass it on as a simple commentary of the political state of play. Given you singled out one president and wanted your readers not to make comparison; then letting them to choose an Obama label only as either ignorant or unlawful and nothing else, it would be a tough sell as something remotely akin to objectivity.

  • Igor

    David Frum, not a leftist but a former Bush administration member, has this to say:

    Constitutional abuse begets constitutional abuse.

    President Obama has engaged in a dubious maneuver to force a recess appointment through a Senate that denies it has recessed.

    The president’s action has ignited a fireworks show of Republican outrage. And yes, Obama has here pushed presidential power beyond past limits.

    But it’s not only presidents who can bend the rules. The Senate has also pushed its powers here beyond the usual limits. The Senate is pretending to be in session when it’s obviously not in session. It is engaging in this pretense in order to use its power over confirmations to negate an agency lawfully created by the prior Congress. Most fundamentally, the Senate here is further extending a weird quirk in its own rules–the quirk that allows individual senators to delay votes on appointments–in ways that allow the Senate minority to impose its will on the whole US government.

    Over the past three decades, we have lived through a prolonged cycle of partisan revenge. Each party pushes the law to score partisan points in ways that would have been deemed unacceptable only just a little while ago. Then at the next turn of the cycle, the other party pushes the law further and wider and even more destructively. One by one, they sequentially smash the customs and traditions that enabled the US government to function. This latest episode over the Cordray appointment may be the most extreme example. But it’s surely not the final example.

    It is instead an ominous milestone in the deterioration of the US political system into ever more intense acrimony and paralysis.

  • GreyHawk

    @18 I must agree with David Frum, as quoted by Igor. The actions on both sides of the system are becoming ominous and reeks of utter foolishness.
    It was said in various ways by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin that Democracy, by itself is a form of government that is ruled by passions and strong emotion. That is why the United States system of government was established to be a Democratic Republic, using the forms of a republic to apply reason to passion to keep it in check.
    Today, we are seeing what has happened with every government when passion rules reason instead of reason tempering passion. We are watching politicians and outsiders “murdering”politically and professionally their opponents just to make their point. Even in this forum we watch the same, with statements made out of passion instead of balanced reason.

    President Obama was wrong in one thing, because his four years has not changed anything but progressed everything that was already going on. It was not change that we needed, but serious application of reason.

    Yet then, how would the media make money? None would stand out from the other. The only recourse for media and politicians, as they see it in modern society, is to push passion far beyond reason. Sad that all these well educated men have not figured out how to stop that snowball, instead they feed it continually.

    Remember the definition of madness is “doing the same thing over and over in the same manner and expecting a different outcome”. No matter how much anger you face at the mountain, unless you use reason, you will never move it out of sheer anger.

  • Igor

    I’m not sure that the distance between ‘reason’ and ‘passion’ is as great as you suggest. After all, don’t we humans often summon reason to our side to argue for beliefs we have derived from our passions?