I suppose you were among the many Americans who watched when President Obama took his oath of office. For crying out loud, don’t oaths mean anything anymore! He said he would solemnly swear (or affirm) that he would faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and would to the best of his ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
You are probably aware that Article I, Section I of the Constitution states that all legislative powers reside with Congress. Throughout American history, our liberty has depended upon our three branches of government. The President does issue executive orders, but they may not be used to make law. They are used to execute laws already passed by Congress.
So why has the president been issuing so many executive orders and ruling with, as he says, a phone and a pen? Since when have voters and elected officials stood by and allowed the executive branch to pick and choose which laws will be enforced?
An example is the Affordable Care Act where dates of effectiveness have changed several times. It used to be that Americans felt constitutional government was endangered when too much power was exercised by just one branch of government. Why are we not more concerned about all of these executive orders, by the president ruling by decree, not following the Constitution and by inaction of the Congress? A phone and a pen is no way to run our federal government.
The framers of the Constitution expected our president to enforce all of our laws, even those with which he might disagree. The people expect the same. It isn’t unreasonable for voters to take an elected official at his word when he takes an oath and says he will abide by it.
In this case, we expect our president to honor the oath, defend the Constitution, cooperate with Congress, improve foreign relations and get on with the job at hand. Selective enforcement and bypassing Congress through executive order harms our checks and balances system. Continued end runs around the legislative branch should not be accepted as a normal way to govern.
Separation of powers is provided for in Article I, Section I of the Constitution, which says legislative power rests with Congress. Executive orders may not be used to make laws only to execute laws already passed by Congress.
Republicans, and others, feel President Obama is pushing his executive power too far. He would be better served trying to work more closely with Congress, doing less selective enforcement of laws, promise less to special interest groups and remember his pledge to preserve, protect and defend The Constitution of the United States. He is, after all, the elected President of all the people in the United States.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.