Unitary Executive = Ignore the Congress and the Courts

Libertarian leaning Republicans can't bring themselves to believe what I tell them about the "Unitary Executive" theory of presidential power to which this Administration adheres, but the fact is that this theory informs all of the excesses and arrogation of power that Bush has enacted. If laws get in the way of this theory, they are broken, plain and simple. It reduces our Rule of Law Republic to tatters - not worth the paper on which the hallowed Constitution is written.

The President continues signing laws publicly and with fanfare, and then, in a dark room away from the cameras, he signs his own special version of the law - the only one he'll obey - that doesn't bear any resemblance to will of Congress. Separation of Powers be damned.
President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department’s reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.

In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.

But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency’s 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section “in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch.”
The facets of the American governmental system that the President is questioning through his theory - that the Congress has any right whatsoever to regulate his execution of executive branch powers - have been well decided. The Supreme Court affirmed that Congress does have the power to regulate the discharge of Constitutional duties, even during wartime, back in the 1950's. You'd think the plain language of the Constitution would have been enough:
Article 1, Section 8
The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Article 2, Section 1
Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Article 2, Section 3
He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; ... he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed...
Hell, Hamdan v Rumsfeld reaffirmed that the Congress has the power to regulate the Executive just months ago, and yet we still are subjected to this march of Executive Power. It amounts to a violation of Bush's oath, an affront to the Constitution, and an assault on traditions that have made this the Land of the Free.

Ultimately, the 60% of Republicans that still support these programs do so only because we have a Republican President. They "Trust" him. But they, God's Own Party, should know that human nature hasn't changed. From the time of the Bible on, power has corrupted. Our Founding Fathers understood that:
In questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
You just can't beat Jefferson. How can the Republican Party have drifted so far from our core political values? I suspect the answer is that they are terribly afraid, and so can't miss an opportunity to sacrifice liberty for a phantom "security" that will never arrive.

No comments: