MCDANIEL: Restraining Presidential Power: Executive Orders

Posted by on January 20, 2015
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By: Senator Chris McDaniel

Soon after the Republican sweep in the midterm elections, President Obama issued a very controversial executive order on immigration, allowing a minimum of five million illegals to remain in the country without fear of deportation.  This order essentially granted them amnesty and nullified federal laws governing aliens who crossed into the country illegally.

Now, bear in mind, Obama has said on at least 22 different occasions that the powers of the presidency do not give him the authority to issue such an order. In one such instance, he told the Spanish network Telemundo:  “I’m not a king. My job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law.  When it comes to enforcement of our immigration laws, we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do. But we can’t simply ignore the law.”

But ignore the law he did.

And it’s not only immigration that has attracted his pen.  In December, he issued an order to stop oil and gas exploration in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  Just this past week he issued another order to expand the amount of paid sick time for federal workers, all without congressional approval.

How can he get away with such abuses of power?  It’s easy with a timid Congress afraid to confront him directly.

Making matters worse, Obama has also deceitfully used language to confuse the public by naming his orders something else.  Rather than call such actions “executive orders,” he now labels them “memoranda.”

But whether they are called executive orders, memoranda, or proclamations, these actions have the same force of law and Obama, despite his denials, has issued 33 percent more executive actions than President George W. Bush and nearly 50 percent more than Bill Clinton.

Why does he do this?  Because Congress won’t act, he declares, so he must.  Yet, contrary to his belief, a “Do Nothing Congress” Clause is not in the Constitution.

In fact, unbeknownst to most people, there is not one single word in Article II of the Constitution, or in any other section, that mentions “executive orders,” “proclamations,” or “memoranda.”  Without Congressional authorization, they are all unconstitutional, whether issued by a Republican or a Democrat.

The Constitution, in Article I Section I, gives all legislative, or lawmaking, authority to Congress, not to the President.  The President’s power consists of making sure “the laws be faithfully executed.”  He cannot make law on his own, nor can he use executive action to delay or modify laws, as he has done repeatedly with Obamacare.

Although it may seem to be a frustrating system, it is the best ever conceived by man, designed to safeguard the liberties of the people.  This is accomplished by one of the great beauties of our government – the separation of powers, a division of sovereignty between the federal government and the states and divided authority between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.  Put simply, the diffusing of power protects our individual liberties.

The founders did this to keep the nation from falling into despotism and dictatorship.  As James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, said in Federalist 46, “The accumulation of all power, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

But sadly we seem to be moving inexorably in that direction.

To stop this movement, Congress, now in the hands of Republicans, should take swift action to restrain the growing powers of the President.  Any illegal executive actions taken by any President should be swiftly reversed and, if applicable, as in the case with executive amnesty, defunded.

No President, regardless of party, should be allowed to change laws or delay them without congressional action, and no presidential action should ever have the force of law.

That power must forever remain in the hands of the people’s chosen representatives.

Senator Chris McDaniel is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses parts of South Mississippi, since 2008. He lives with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.

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Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS 42)

Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS 42)

Senator Chris McDaniel is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses parts of South Mississippi, since 2008. He lives with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi.

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