In testimony before Congress, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, lied under oath about government surveillance programs. He later admitted that he had given the least untruthful statement he could think of. The Obama administration has refused to investigate Clapper for perjury, and has made no move toward firing him. More recently, the administration was accused of searching Senate computers in an investigation of the CIA and trying to intimidate Congressional investigators.
“In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the law,” says House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who is planning a civil lawsuit against the White House.
Professor Jonathan Turley declares that, “This downward spiral may have reached its ultimate expression this year. Framers such as Madison would have been mortified by the scene from the most recent State of the Union address. Obama appeared before a joint session of Congress (and members of the Supreme Court) to announce that he intended to go it alone in achieving his policy goals, refusing to yield to the actions of Congress. One would have expected an outcry, or, at least stony silence, from a branch that was being told it would be circumvented. Instead, there was rapturous applause that bordered on a collective expression of institutional self-loathing.”
For the president to, in effect, execute laws that have been proposed in Congress, but never enacted (such as the Dream Act), is to reject our system of Constitutional government. “Under this approach,” states Turley, “Congress is being reduced to an almost decorative element in governance, free to approve but not to block presidential demands.”
The Founding Fathers would be disappointed to see the growth of government, the increase in executive power, and the erosion of our system of checks and balances. But they would not be surprised. In a letter to Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote that, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
To the question “Is it too much to ask the president to faithfully execute the laws and respect our Constitutional system of checks and balances?”, the answer, for President Obama, seems to be, “Yes, it is too much to ask.” How the Congress, the courts, and the American people will respond remains to be seen.
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