Friday, August 29, 2014

Unconstitutional Presidential Actions

By Douglas V. Gibbs

The list of Barack Obama's unconstitutional actions is long.  Someone once asked if I could write a book about all of Obama's unconstitutional actions, and I said, "Too large of a project.  It would be longer than the Obamacare bill."

He's toying with a global warming treaty without seeking Senatorial ratification.  His czars were appointed without Senatorial oversight, as required by the Constitution regarding appointments of public ministers and consuls.  He has rejected his constitutional requirement of "faithfully executing the laws of the United States," as instructed in Article II, Section 3 (such as in the case of immigration law).  Obama has issued executive orders that modify law, when Article I, Section 1 grants all legislative powers to the Congress of the United States.  He has said time and time again that to get his way, he'll do it with or without Congress.  And he has.

A couple years ago, he was even willing to dictate to Congress when they are in session, or not, by making recess appointments while Congress was in a pro-forma session.

Article I, Section 5 requires Congress to have a minimum number of members present in order to do business. That majority constitutes a quorum, and if the Congress deems it necessary, the present members may set fines for members who do not show up. The Houses of Congress may remain in session, during which no formal business is conducted because the House does not have a quorum, so as to prevent executive actions that may be carried out during recess. This kind of session is called a pro forma session.

In Article II, Section 2, the President is given the authority to make recess appointments, when Congress is not in session. Normally, the United States Senate has advise and consent authority over appointments, which means that appointments of personnel to fill vacancies are possible for the President to grant, but such appointments requires the approval of the United States Senate (voice of the States). If the Senate is not in session, and an appointment is necessary, the President may make appointments, but the terms of those appointments only last to the end of the Senate’s next session. If the Senate is in a pro-forma session, the President may not make any appointments. With Congress only in session when there is work to be done, and the founders believed that would likely be once a year, the ability of the President to make appointments when Congress is not in session was a valuable, and necessary, tool. In today’s political environment, it seems like Congress is always in session, so recess appointments are not as common.

In early January of 2012, President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a powerful bureaucracy created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul legislation. However, even though most of the members of Congress were on vacation, the United States Senate was still in session. President Obama’s definition of recess, it turned out, was broader than the Constitution’s definition. In reality, the U.S. Senate was in pro-forma session. John Berlau, Director of CEI's Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs, called the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray "very troubling," criticizing both Obama's controversial use of a recess appointment, and the selection of Cordray itself. Berlau later asked, “What's next, appointing nominees when the Senate takes a bathroom break?”

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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