Contempt for Congress

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

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?


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *