Can the President unilaterally “change the law”? In January 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s executive actions that aim to grant legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the senior Republican in the U. S. Senate and a longtime member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lauded the decision and urged the Court to strike down the President’s unconstitutional policy.
“President Obama’s executive action is an affront to our system of republican self-government,” Hatch said. “The Constitution vests legislative authority in Congress, not the President. With his actions, President Obama has attempted to bypass the constitutionally ordained legislative process and rewrite the law unilaterally.
The Constitution is clear. The President is not a king. Yet President Obama directly violated the Constitution by imposing his lawless Executive action on immigration. He broke the law.
In 2014, Obama’s deferred action” program for undocumented immigrants is described as acting lawlessly and assuming legislative power. Numerous members of Congress believe “the Obama administration is driving full speed ahead to a constitutional crisis, tilting the scales of our three-branch government in his favor and threatening to unravel our system of checks and balances.” This sentiment was inflamed with President Obama’s “deferred action” program for undocumented immigrants. Much the same sentiment has been expressed nationwide since then, about Obama’s entry into a climate agreement with China, his promulgation of new regulations under the Clean Air Act, his decision to reopen relations with Cuba, and his designation of Alaska’s Bristol Bay as indefinitely protected from oil and gas drilling.
The Constitution’s separation of powers is also a balance of powers. While the president has broad powers as commander in chief, Congress has equally broad authority in its power of the purse and its exclusive grant of legislative powers. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to “make all Laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the…Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.” In other words, Congress makes the rules, and the president executes them. Relative to detainees, the Constitution even gives Congress the explicit power to “make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” Congress has done exactly that.
President Obama must avoid a constitutional crisis on closing Guantanamo. It is a legitimate exercise of congressional power to prevent the president from housing some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists on U. S. soil. This, emphatically, Congress can do.
A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked his illegal action and declared that President Obama “is not just rewriting the laws, he is creating them from scratch.” Key Members of Congress have filed a major amicus brief at the Supreme Court to defeat President Obama’s lawlessness.
Let your voice be heard. Contact your representatives and senators. The very fabric of our Constitution is at stake.
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