Originally published July 17 2013
If Obama can choose to ignore the 2014 Obamacare mandate, then any future President assumes line-item veto power over all legislation
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Our founding fathers devised and adopted a republican (small "r") form of government that contained three co-equal branches of government that were designed to be a check and balance on the others. No one branch was designed to be more powerful than the other, those each branch - the Legislative, Executive and Judicial - were designed to retain specific powers, and for specific reasons.
It truly was a "revolutionary" concept at the time and remains arguably the most effective, innovative form of government ever devised, especially when you take into account its main purpose: to liberate, empower and protect the individual from the power of the state.
Having just liberated the 13 original colonies from the clutches of an oft-tyrannical British monarch, our founding fathers were especially leery of a centralized governing "ruler," so they ensured that presidents then and now would be granted only limited, specific authoritative powers. The Legislative Branch would write and pass the laws, leaving a president only to sign them into existence or chose to veto them. A Judicial Branch made up of federal courts of varying levels would be in place to decide questions of constitutionality of said laws, whenever those questions would arise. Finally, a president's role, our founders decided, would be to uphold and enforce the laws as written, as laid out in Article II, Section I of the Constitution, describing the presidential oath of office:
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.
Welcome to 2013, where a post-constitutional American empire has replaced the founding fathers' visions of presidential power and authority. Now, in the Age of Obama, presidents can pick and choose which laws they want to enforce, which laws they want to ignore, and judge the validity of same - all without repercussion.
'This was the law. How can they change the law?'
In case you didn't know, President Obama recently announced his administration was delaying implementation of a controversial and costly employer insurance mandate that is part of "The Affordable Care Act," a law more commonly known as Obamacare [http://www.mondaq.com].
The president's spokes folks say the decision was made in response to the administration "listening" to businesses, many of which have been complaining that the mandate will force them a) to raise prices on goods and services to cover the added expense; b) lay off a number of employees to get below the magic number of 50; c) cut the hours of many full-time employees and make them part-time, to get below the magic number of 50; d) delay hiring new employees; or e) close altogether.
But Obama, as president, does not have the authority to make this call. Obamacare is the law of the land, and as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the law is constitutional. So, if the law is constitutional - and as president Obama has sworn an oath to "faithfully execute the office of President of the United States" - his job as the nation's chief law enforcer is to, well, enforce the law and to do so as it is written.
"This was the law. How can they change the law?" asked Sen. Tom Harken of Iowa, a member of the president's own Democrat Party.
Others agree with Harken.
'Not a discretionary power'
Former U.S. Tenth Circuit Appeals Court judge Michael McConnell, writing in The Wall Street Journal shortly after the administration made the delay announcement, noted:
Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.
Further, McConnell notes that this president has decided not to enforce other provisions of law:
This is not the first time Mr. Obama has suspended the operation of statutes by executive decree, but it is the most barefaced. In June of last year, for example, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, and met a variety of other criteria. This was after Congress refused to enact the Dream Act, which would have allowed these individuals to stay in accordance with these conditions. Earlier in 2012, the president effectively replaced congressional requirements governing state compliance under the No Child Left Behind Act with new ones crafted by his administration.
Consequences for constitutional government 'dire'
Previous courts and administrations have also said the Executive Branch has no authority to enforce only those laws which the current president likes or agrees with. A president does not have the authority to make that decision, as noted by U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, when the high court struck down a line-item veto bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton.
"There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes," Stevens wrote.
McConnell also warns that those who support Obama's delay should be careful what they are doing.
"Republican opponents of ObamaCare might say that the suspension of the employer mandate is such good policy that there's no need to worry about constitutionality," he said. "But if the president can dispense with laws, and parts of laws, when he disagrees with them, the implications for constitutional government are dire."
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