Contempt for Congress


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This editorial in the Wall Street Journal summarizes very well the facts of Obama’s attempt to circumvent the Constitution yesterday: Contempt for Congress.

A President has the power to make a recess appointment, and we’ve supported Mr. Obama’s right to do so. The Constitutional catch is that Congress must be in recess.

The last clause of Section 5 of Article 1 of the Constitution says that “Neither House” of Congress can adjourn for more than three days “without the Consent of the other” house. In this case, the House of Representatives had not formally consented to Senate adjournment. It’s true the House did this to block the President from making recess appointments, but it is following the Constitution in doing so. Let’s hear Mr. Obama’s legal justification.

Democrats had used a similar process to try to thwart Mr. Bush’s recess appointments late in his term when they controlled both the House and the Senate. Prodded by West Virginia’s Robert C. Byrd, who has since died, Majority Leader Harry Reid kept the Senate in pro forma session. Some advisers urged Mr. Bush to ignore the Senate and make recess appointments anyway, but he declined. Now Mr. Reid is supporting Mr. Obama’s decision to make an end run around a Senate practice that he pioneered. [emphasis in original]

In other words, the Constitution is plain and Obama is consciously ignoring it, unlike Bush or any previous President. You can make excuses for this arrogant and unprecedented abuse of power, but an abuse of power it is, nonetheless.

As for sitting back and waiting for the courts to settle this, that’s a cop-out. The courts will almost certainly bow out, noting that this is a political battle between two other branches of government. The article above does note who will sue:

Private parties will have standing to sue if they are affected by one of Mr. Cordray’s rule-makings, and that’s when the courts may get a say on Mr. Obama’s contempt for Congress.

Thus, Obama’s actions will make any actions by his appointee legally suspect. It will create chaos in government and business, while simultaneously eroding the rule of law.

Is this the kind of government representation we want?

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4 comments

  • LINO

    I disagree. If the constitutional issues here are as clear as you think they are, there is no reason for the courts not to hear this.

    The fact is, there are conflicting matters of opinion here, including whether the minority body in the Senate should have the power to obstruct the implementation of existing legislation.

    I can’t wait for the “damaged parties” that are committing fraud or other abuses on the consumer public to sue for their rights to abuse the American Public.

    This is going to be a great show!

  • Jim

    Yes, it is exactly what is expected. These types of challenges between the executive and legislative branches have occurred since the founding of the Republic. Each side tries to grab for itself as much power as it can. It is neither arrogant or unprecedented.

    The WSJ piece is only an opinion, just like you and I have voiced. In fact, the WSJ piece only highlighted some of the same points as I made previously. Democrats started this recess argument when Bush was President. I think the piece is wrong in saying that Bush did not challenge…he did with the appointment of William Pryor. And a court ruled in his favor.

    You left out this quote from the WSJ piece:
    “Some lawyers we respect argue that a pro forma session isn’t a real Congressional session, and that’s certainly worth debating.”
    And that is exactly the debate that will occur now. And courts will have to decide if gimmicks (which the WSJ readily admits this was) trump constitutionally granted powers to the executive branch.
    My opinion again, no challenge will come. If it does, courts will continue to rule in the executive branch’s favor to make recess appointments, whether the “executive” is a Republican or Democrat.
    Nothing will be legally suspect, unless challenged through the courts, exactly as the founders intended. And if the courts favor gimmicks, than both sides will have to abide.
    Its the beauty of America.

  • taka

    Adjournment != Recess

    There is no Consitutional definition of Recess. Courts have sided with executive branch on this. “Pro-forma” sessions specifically state that no business (of Congress) will be conducted, hence and effective recess. Gimmicks (used by both parties) to undermine the opposition, are childish. Congress really needs to do the people’s business and vote on Presidential Nominees.

  • LINO

    “Congress really needs to do the people’s business and vote on Presidential Nominees.”

    ……and if they deliberately abdicate that responsibility, let Leaders Lead.

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