The Powers of the Presidency

In 1787 our founders gathered for the Constitutional Convention that determined which form of government would be chosen for the United States. Congregating outside of Independence Hall, interested citizens anxiously awaited the results of the Founders’ deliberations. One Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin famously responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

 Benjamin Franklin’s observation from 1787 resonates in today’s environment, for we have a President who is blatantly ignoring the Constitution. Even such liberal bastions as The New York Times have published articles decrying the President’s abuse of the Constitution.

 Our Republic’s survival depends upon the willingness of We the People to enforce our elected representatives’ adherence to the Constitution. Over the last five years President Obama has decreed that certain laws are to be ignored and he has dictated changes to other laws.

The powers of the Presidency are outlined in Article II of the Constitution.

In Article II, Section 1, the President must take the following oath: “I do solemnly swear 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.”

In Section 2, the Constitution gives the President authority as commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States as well as the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States. He is also given power to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators concur; and he shall nominate ambassadors, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States whose appointments are not provided for elsewhere within the Constitution, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President shall also have power to fill vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Section 3 requires the President to give Congress information of the state of the union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient, as well as the power to convene both Houses, or either of them, and he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

The Framers of the Constitution constructed a system of government protected by checks and balances. In Federalist No. 48 James Madison said that power was “so divided and balanced…that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”

In these past five years President Obama has repeatedly failed to uphold the law. Here are some examples:

  • Stopping the deportation of undocumented immigrants
  • Ending the prosecution of most marijuana users
  • Refusing to enforce the work requirement in the welfare law
  • Changing the mandates in the Affordable Care Act
  • Ignoring a statutory deadline in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act
  • Making “recess appointments” while the Senate was in Session
  • Inventing labor law exemptions so employers did not need to issue notice to employees before making layoffs
  • Abdicating the Department of Justice’s responsibility to defend DOMA
  • Raising the minimum wage for federal contractors

President Obama declared, “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”

What can be done to end this abuse of power? With the current Democrat-controlled Senate and Executive branch, congressional action to stop the unconstitutional abuses of President Obama is ineffective, other than by withholding funding. Another option involves filing a lawsuit against President Obama. Senator Mike Lee of Utah in an interview with The Weekly Standard said, “You’ve got to show that the plaintiff has suffered an injury in fact – a concrete, particularized harm that’s fairly traceable to the conduct of the defendant, and it is capable of being redressed or remedied by the court.”

In December freshman Representative Tom Rice (R-SC) filed the Stop This Overreaching residency, or STOP, Act (HR 442). He has 34 co-sponsors including Texas Congressmen Barton, Burgess, Carter, Culberson, Farenthold, Flores, Hall, Hensarling, Marchant, Neugebauer, Sessions, Smith, Stockman, and Weber.

Thank these Republican Congressmen for supporting Representative Rice’s effort, and ask them to act now to end the abuse of our Constitution.