Morning Bell: 5 Ways Obama Has Trampled the Constitution
by Elizabeth Slattery and Rich Tucker September 17, 2013
Today, the Constitution turns 226 years old. Let’s not forget it states that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
The Obama Administration has done the opposite, turning the law on its head and ignoring constitutional limitations on its power.
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Here are five of the Administration’s largest violations:
1. Changing Obamacare on the fly without congressional action
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that businesses employing 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine per uncovered employee. The law schedules this mandate to begin in January 2014. Yet the Administration has already announced that it will put this requirement on hold.
Meanwhile, Congress explicitly considered and rejected proposed amendments to Obamacare that would have created a specific allowance for a congressional health insurance subsidy in the exchanges, and indeed, such an exemption is illegal. But the Administration told Members of Congress and their staffers that it would give them a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy just the same.
Obamacare won’t work as written, and the Administration is just seizing power unilaterally to rewrite it.
2. Implementing the DREAM Act by executive fiat
Congress has repeatedly considered, and rejected, a bill known as the Dream Act that would effectively grant amnesty to many illegal aliens. Yet in June 2012, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a directive to immigration officials instructing them to defer deportation proceedings against an estimated 1.7 million illegal aliens. Oddly, this happened about a year after President Obama admitted that “the President doesn’t have the authority to simply ignore Congress and say, ‘We’re not going to enforce the laws you’ve passed.’”
3. Making “recess appointments” while the Senate was in session
In January 2012, President Obama made four “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, claiming that the Senate was not available to confirm those appointees. Yet the Senate was not in recess at that time. The Recess Appointments Clause is not an alternative to Senate confirmation and is supposed to be only a stopgap for times when the Senate is unable to provide advice and consent. Eventually, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit struck down the appointments to the NLRB as unconstitutional.
4. Waiving welfare work requirements
In July 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services gutted the work requirements out of the welfare reform law passed in 1996. It notified states of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s “willingness to exercise her waiver authority” so that states may eliminate the work participation requirement of Section 407 of the 1996 reforms. This flatly contradicts the law, which provides that waivers granted under other sections of the law “shall not affect the applicability of section 407 to the State.” Despite this unambiguous language, the Obama Administration continues to flout the law with its “revisionist” interpretation.
5. Encouraging federal contractors to violate the law
The WARN Act requires that federal contractors give 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff or plant closing. Employers who do not give notice are liable for employees’ back pay and benefits as well as additional penalties. With defense-related spending cuts set to start on January 2, 2013, defense contractors should have issued notice by November 2, 2012 (just four days before the presidential election). Yet, the Department of Labor instructed defense contractors not to issue notice for layoffs due to sequestration until after the election—and assured them they would be reimbursed with taxpayer funds for any subsequent liability for violating the law.
One of the Constitution’s strongest features is its simplicity. It doesn’t serve as a laundry list of rights, as many modern constitutions attempt to do. Instead, it lays out a governing framework, divides power among three co-equal branches, and protects Americans from having their rights usurped by an overreaching government.
But for the Constitution to survive the next quarter-millennium, we need leaders who are dedicated to maintaining it, not stretching it to suit their immediate political needs.
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