Tag Archives: executive authority

Trump seeks to amend Constitution with an executive order?

Hold on, Mr. President!

You used to excoriate your immediate predecessor, falsely, for over-using his executive order authority. Now you are considering a notion to issue an order to stop birthright citizenship to everyone who is born within the United States of America?

I do not believe you can do that, Mr. President. Your White House legal team is giving you bad advice. I feel confident saying such a thing even though I am no lawyer, nor do I purport to know “the best words” or surround myself with “the best people.”

I understand that you just don’t want all them “illegal aliens” giving birth in this country to babies who become immediate U.S. citizens. You want citizenship only for those who “merit” it.

Let’s take a quick look — shall we? — at the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 says it clearly: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

The amendment was proposed in Congress on June 13, 1866, a little more than a year after the Civil War.

Constitutional scholars say the amendment was a result of efforts granting full citizenship to African-Americans who only three years earlier were “emancipated” from their enslavement by President Lincoln.

Still, it’s written in the Constitution, that everyone born in this country is granted immediate citizenship upon birth.

Thus, I just don’t believe, Mr. President, that you can circumvent the Constitution with the kind of executive order you said was abused by former presidents.

If you do, sir, my sincere hope is that someone challenges it immediately and that it finds its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the conservative majority on the court — which has been buttressed by the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — stands by the document y’all have pledged to protect and defend, they’ll join their liberal colleagues in shutting down this unconstitutional effort.

This executive authority notion, Mr. President, is un-American.

Executive authority now becomes OK, yes, Mr. President?

I recall hearing time and again during the 2016 presidential campaign that Barack H. Obama’s use of executive authority was somehow a bad thing.

The president shouldn’t govern by executive fiat, saidĀ many of his critics, such as the Republican nominee for president, Donald John Trump.

Hmm. Well, times have changed, haven’t they?

Trump is now the president. He’sĀ assumed the role of chief executive of the federal government. By golly, the man has found that executive authority isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Indeed, as that supposedly “phony” 100-day threshold approaches, the current president is left to proclaim the only victories of his new term have come via executive order.

Oh, and he’s also suffered some embarrassment through this activity as well, such as when the federal judiciary knocked down two of his travel bans for those coming here from Muslim-majority countries.

Through executive authority, Trump is demonstrating his ability to use the power granted to him by virtue of his election. I get that. I respect the authority granted to the president and I won’t condemn him for using it, per se.

What boggles my mind is how he continues to get away with the rhetorical gymnastics he performs routinely and how he manages to bluster his way out of what he said earlier.

He said while campaigning he wouldn’t have time for golf; he said would be at the White House 24/7 working to bring back all those jobs that have gone offshore; he promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else.

He’s done essentially two things during his first 100 days as president: He nominated a Supreme Court justice, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and he ordered a missile strike against Syrian military targets in response to Syrians’ use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Legislative accomplishment? Nothing, man. The president has relied almost exclusively on his executive authority — which he condemned when another president did the same thing.

When presidents cherished using their power . . .


Theodore Roosevelt was not a timid man.

The 26th president of the United States took office as the youngest man ever to ascend to the White House; he was thrust into the office in 1901 when President William McKinley was shot to death.

How did the brash man treat his office? Like he owned it.

I’m reading a book, “The American President,” by historian William E. Leuchtenburg. It examines every presidency of the 20th century — from TR to William Jefferson Clinton.

TR had written a letter to the British historian George Otto Trevelyan near the end of his time in office, according to Leuchtenburg. He wrote:

“While President, I have been president, emphatically; I have used every ounce of power there was in the office and I have not cared a rap for the criticisms of those who spoke of my ‘usurpation of power.’ . . . The efficiency of this government depends upon possessing a strong central executive and wherever I could establish a precedent for strength in the executive, I did.”

Leuchtenburg writes also that Roosevelt boasted after leaving office in 1909 about how things “were done by me without the assistance of Congress.”

Holy smokes!

Try to imagine the current president — or any recent president, for that matter — bragging about going over the heads of another “co-equal branch of government.”

The 44th president, Barack Obama, has issued some executive orders that have sent his congressional critics into apoplectic shock.

Theodore Roosevelt has, over time, gained stature as one of this country’s greatest leaders. His face is on Mount Rushmore, for crying out loud, right along with Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and the original George W. — Washington.

How did he get there?

By using the power of his office.


Don’t be overly ‘audacious,’ Mr. President


President Obama hardly seems like an “audacious” fellow.

Remember the “No Drama Obama” mantra during his first term in the White House? That was meant to describe a president who disliked being overly aggressive in the pursuit of foreign or domestic policy.

I guess that’s about to change now that the president is entering his final year in office.

He wants to ponder “audacious” executive actions, things he can do unilaterally without the approval of Congress.

Presidential prerogative is an important element of governing. I’ve long believed in it, given that the president is elected nationally.

Barack Obama has used the power of his office — granted by the U.S. Constitution — relatively sparingly during his seven years in the White House. However, some of the orders he’s issued — such as those on immigration and on gun control — have caused considerable consternation.

Are they illegal? Is he “lawless,” as some Republican presidential candidates keep alleging as they toss out the red meat to their supporters from the stump? No on both counts, in my view.

But the president’s “audacious” use of executive authority clearly must have its limits.

I will continue to have a large measure of faith that the legal eagles in the Justice Department and in the White House’s West Wing know the limits set forth in the Constitution. What’s more, the president keeps reminding us that he taught constitutional law once.

So, if Congress isn’t going to help govern the country along with the White House, proceed, Mr. President.

But please, young man, be careful.


Time for Walker to 'bone up'

Scott Walker says he’d toss the Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by the United States and its allies into the trash if he’s elected president of the United States next year.

To which the current president, Barack Obama, says the Republican Wisconsin governor needs to “bone up on foreign policy” to realize the foolishness of such a pledge.

Score one for the 44th president.


The sole intent of the deal is to deny Iran the chance to develop a nuclear weapon. It was a painstaking negotiation. It reduces the number of centrifuges Iran can use. It allows for careful international monitoring of Iran by inspectors to ensure the Iranians are complying the with the deal. It won’t lift economic sanctions on Iran until it does comply.

So, what are the spectators in the peanut gallery — such as Gov. Walker — proposing? Do we bomb the Iranians? Do we invade? Do we just impose more sanctions and then hope they will prevent the Iranians from doing what they damn well please with respect to nuclear weapon development?

The president spoke to National Public Radio about the deal. “I am confident that any president who gets elected,” Obama told NPR host Steve Inskeep, “will be knowledgeable enough about foreign policy and knowledgeable enough about the traditions and precedents of presidential power that they won’t start calling [into] question the capacity of the executive branch of the United States to enter into agreements with other countries. If that starts being questioned, that’s going to be a problem for our friends and that’s going to embolden our enemies.”

All this tough talk and bluster from those who oppose the deal go the heart of a concern some of us out here have raised about whether the United States should be speaking with a single, clear, strong voice regarding Iran.

Yes, Congress should be heard. However, let us not undermine the executive branch’s authority to negotiate in good faith — even with our enemies.


Proposed ammo ban draws fire

So, a proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to ban ammunition used in assault rifles has become a target by those who say hunters actually use these weapons to hunt wild game.

The weapon at issue is the AR-15, which is virtually identical to the M-16 rifle soldiers have been issued when they go to duty in combat zones.

The ammo in question is a .223-caliber bullet that is tipped with material designed to produce maximum penetration.


ATF wants to ban the ammo. Gun-rights supporters contend it’s another step toward disarming law-abiding Americans. It isn’t. It’s designed to protect law enforcement officers who could be killed by those using these weapons in anger.

Still, some on the right have suggested that the ban would occur by presidential executive action. That’s not the case. This notion is coming from a law enforcement agency.

The Hill reports that lawmakers have asked ATF to pull back the proposal. According to The Hill: ā€œUnder no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,ā€ the lawmakers wrote in the letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

The Constitution’s Second Amendment, of course, is the centerpiece of the opposition to the proposal. The Second Amendment does not guarantee the manufacture and distribution of weapons and ammunition that police deem to be dangerous beyond all reason.

There remain plenty of opportunities — even if the ATF ban goes into effect — for law-abiding citizens to “keep and bear arms.”

Immigration seas are roiling yet again

The political water under the immigration issue keeps tossing and turning to the point that it’s making me queasy.

The latest wave to crash against the immigration vessel came from the Southern Federal Judicial District of Texas andĀ U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who late Sunday said President Obama’s executive action delaying deportation of illegal immigrants violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the way federal regulations are set up and how much public input is delivered.


The Obama administration plans to appeal, most likely to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed theĀ judge’s ruling, saying it validates their contention that the feds reached beyond their grasp in delaying the deportation of illegal immigrants, about 1.46 million of whom live in Texas.

“President Obama abdicated his responsibility to uphold the United States Constitution when he attempted to circumvent the laws passed by Congress via executive fiat,” Abbott said in a statement, “and Judge Hanenā€™s decision rightly stops the Presidentā€™s overreach in its tracks.”

Paxton agrees with the governor. “This decision is a victory for the rule of law in America and a crucial first step in reining in President Obama’s lawlessness,” he said in a statement.Ā “This injunction makes it clear that the President is not a law unto himself, and must work with our elected leaders in Congress and satisfy the courts in a fashion our Founding Fathers envisioned.ā€

Did politics play a part in this federal judge’s decision? Judge Hanen was appointed by President George W. Bush and already is on record as suggesting the Department of Homeland Security was breaking immigration law by allowing undocumented immigrant children to be reunited with their parents rather than deporting or arresting them, according to the Texas Tribune.

Let’s wait, then, for progressives to bemoan the actions of an “unelected activist judge” who places himself above the law. I’m betting we won’t hearĀ such an argument coming from that side of the aisle.

Something tells me the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to get this one.

In the meantime, pass the Dramamine.


When in doubt, House, sue

Congress is going to court with the president of the United States.

The House of Representatives filed its long-awaited lawsuit against Barack Obama, contending the president misused his executive authority to “rewrite the law” regarding the Affordable Care Act.

I’ll stipulate that I’m no constitutional lawyer, but I’ll bet the farm that Obama didn’t break the law.


He did what the Constitution empowers him to do.

It’s curious, too, that Congress filed the suit the day after Obama delivered that long awaited executive order on immigration, although the lawsuit deals with the ACA exclusively. I guess Speaker John Boehner just couldn’t take it any longer.

The lawsuit, along with the talk of impeachment, is utter nonsense.

Boehner is grandstanding in the worst possible way. It’s not even clear the court will hear the lawsuit, let alone allow to go to trial and be decided by a jury.

The most hilarious aspect of this lawsuit are the claims by Republicans that the president is “overusing” the executive authority granted to him. It’s funny because Obama has signed fewer executive orders than almost any of his immediate predecessors. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the most recent two-term Republican presidents, signed more. Where was the outcry then?

We’ll now get to see how this circus plays out.

Meanwhile, some serious legislating needs to get done. How about seeing the GOP craft a bill on, say, immigration and health care? They say they can doĀ better. Let’s have it.


Immigration reform = family values

Remember the early 1990s when “family values” became a mantra for politicians seeking to return to the core values of our nation?

Vice President Dan Quayle once chided the TV character “Murphy Brown” for having a child out of wedlock. The debate was joined.

Two decades later, the term “family values” has taken a new turn. It became part of President Barack Obama’s pitch to fix a broken immigration system.

The president’s pitch is nearly perfect.

Obama went on national TV today to tell the nation he would sign an executive order that keeps families together. Mom and Dad may have entered the nation illegally, but brought their children along when they were small — or perhaps bore their children in this country, an act that gave the kids instant U.S. citizenship.

The president’s order defers the deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants. His aim, among other things, is to keep families together. Obama told the nation that it’s impractical to deport all those who came here illegally. Must we deport their children? And what about those children who are citizens simply by virtue of their birth in the United States of America?

This won’t deter Republicans from challenging the president. The new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are vowing unspecified actions to fight the president’s action.

Well, let’s have that fight and let’s allow the public to decide whether it’s right to separate families, or to uproot entire families after they’ve found a better life in the Land of Opportunity.


Now it's Congress's turn to act on immigration

President Obama has made his speech. He’s done what the law allows him to do. He has issued an executive order that starts to move immigration reform forward.

Now he has challenged Congress to enact a bill that would apply permanent solutions to the nation’s immigration problem.


Instead of hyperventilating and tossing out “lawless” accusations against the Obama administration, perhaps the GOP-led Congress — both the Senate and the House of Representatives — can do what it hasn’t yet done. Fix the immigration problem that has brought us to this point.

Obama has delayed the deportation of 5 million undocumented immigrants. He has ordered border security officials to prioritize the arrest of gang members, suspected terrorists and common criminals — and then deport them post haste.

A good number of the rest of the illegal immigrant population? They can “come out of the shadows,” as the president said.

Constitutional scholars have been saying for a good period of time that Obama stands on solid legal footing in doing what he did this evening. Politicians have been saying something else, that the president is “overstepping his authority,” that he’s creating a “monarchy,” that now calls himself “Emperor Obama.”

Well, what the 44th president of the U.S. did was no more dramatic than what many of his predecessors dating back to Dwight Eisenhower have done. The drama has come from the furious opposition on the Republican side of chasm.

Do I wish he would have waited for the new Congress to take its seat? Yes. He didn’t listen to me.

But the president did what the law allows him to do.

So now the ball has been batted back to Congress. Pass a bill and send it to the White House.