A Lawless Presidency - Part 4 - House Judiciary Hearing - "The Obama Administration's Abuse of Power"
During the planning process for my recent trip to Washington, DC, I learned the House Judiciary Committee would be having a hearing entitled, "The Obama Administrations Abuse of Power". As this fits right in with this series of stories, I contacted the committee and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) to make arrangements to attend the hearing.
The hearing was quite informative as to a wide variety of abuses of power ranging from refusal to answer questions related to Operation Fast and Furious, to recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess, to its refusal to enforce the laws of the land.
Following is my video of Chairman Smiths opening remarks from the hearing and a transcript of these remarks.
Chairman Smiths staff was extremely hospitable in welcoming us to the hearing and showing us the ropes of what we were allowed to do during the hearing.
Smith opened the hearing with a list of allegations of abuse of power by the Obama Administration. Some of these might fall into a category of political policy disagreements, many are borderline, if not in fact violations of the law by those working for Obama. In regards to several laws not being enforced by the Obama Administration, Smith charged, "Just because you dont like a law, doesnt mean you can ignore it. Many people have gone to jail for doing just that."
Smith continued stating, "The President ignored the Senates constitutional role in the appointment process in order to place partisans in key positions that regulate labor and financial markets. To do so, he took the unprecedented position that he could make a so-called recess appointment even when the Senate, by its own rules, was not in recess."
While I will delve more deeply into the hearing in future articles, it was interesting to note the objections of Democrats on the panel seemed to be more focused on the title of the hearing rather than the actual allegations of abuse of power.
As to President Obamas improper use of Executive Privilege, Smith argued, "Executive privilege cannot apply to documents that dont involve the President or his close advisers if there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred." Clearly this is the case in Fast and Furious where the government was involved in illegally allowing guns to be sold to drug cartels and exported to Mexico resulting the in the death of US Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican nationals.
Citing the seriousness of these hearings and allegations, Smith said, "It is easy to think of disputes about the Presidents power as abstract questions of constitutional theory, unimportant to anyone but law professors and DC insiders. But when the Administration repeatedly ignores constitutional and legal limits on the Presidents power, it undermines the rule of law, with very real consequences."
In future stories we will look at the questioning by Members of Congress and the responses from the witnesses including Utah Senator Mike Lee who granted us an exclusive interview in the days following the hearing.
We also had an exclusive interview immediately after the hearing with Chairman Smith. That interview will be posted later this week.
This hearing confirms the allegations of this being a "Lawless Presidency". We have an opportunity to correct this problem in November by electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and by electing a Republican majority to both the US House and Senate. We must restore the rule of law and respect for the Constitution to the White House.
TRANSCRIPT OF CHAIRMAN SMITHS COMMENTS:
Chairman Smith: This Committee has held hearings on many of the ways in which the Obama Administration has abused its power, ignored its duties, evaded responsibility and overstepped the Constitutions limits on the President.
Todays hearing will look at the pattern of ignoring constitutional limits created by all of these abuses.
The Administration has repeatedly put its partisan agenda above the rule of law. In doing so, it has eroded the constitutional and legal foundations that have kept America prosperous and free for over 200 years.
President Obama has to an unprecedented extent failed to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Instead, he has repeatedly issued blanket waivers that exempt large classes oft~e population from duly enacted laws.
For example, the President once acknowledged that for him "to simply through executive order ignore "the immigration laws on the books "would not conform with [his] appropriate role as President."
Nonetheless, he acted contrary to his own words and decided not to enforce some immigration laws.
As a result, in these times of sustained unemployment, American workers will be forced to compete with illegal immigrants who, according to the law should not be given work permits.
Similarly, the Administration has issued waivers to the No Child Left Behind Act and the Welfare reform bill that are so broad that they effectively rewrite the law instead of enforcing it.
Just because you dont like a law, doesnt mean you can ignore it. Many people have gone to jail for doing just that.
The President ignored the Senates constitutional role in the appointment process in order to place partisans in key positions that regulate labor and financial markets. To do so, he took the unprecedented position that he could make a so-called "recess" appointment even when the Senate, by its own rules, was not in recess.
The Administration also has shown contempt for Congressional oversight of its activities.
In order to hide documents related to the Fast & Furious scandal, the President asserted a broad executive privilege that is not supported by precedent.
Executive privilege cannot apply to documents that dont involve the President or his close advisers if "there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred."
Operation Fast & Furious and the Administrations misleading statements to Congress about the operation are exactly the sort of misconduct that Presidents may not conceal behind a claim of privilege.
By concealing the truth about Fast & Furious behind an improper claim of privilege, the President has undermined the Constitutional requirement that the Executive branch answer for its actions to Congress and the American people.
The President has also ignored the Constitutions protections of individual rights, most notably religious freedom.
By mandating that employers pay for health care products and services that many employers believe to be morally wrong, he has forced Americans to choose between violating the law or violating their religious beliefs. The Constitution does not allow the government to put Americans to such a choice.
Together, these abuses by the Obama Administration form a disturbing pattern. When the Constitution and laws limit the Administrations ability to impose its partisan agenda, the President ignores the Constitution and laws. This pattern of behavior hurts our country, disrespects the Constitution, and undermines democracy.
It is easy to think of disputes about the Presidents power as abstract questions of constitutional theory, unimportant to anyone but law professors and DC insiders.
But when the Administration repeatedly ignores constitutional and legal limits on the Presidents power, it undermines the rule of law, with very real consequences.
In 2008, the United States ranked number 1 in the World Economic Forums Global Competitiveness Report. In just four years, we have fallen to the seventh most competitive economy in the world.
According to the report, a large part of Americas lost competitiveness comes from the decline in faith in public institutions and the government.
The Obama administrations continued abuse of authority contributes to this decline in faith in our institutions and creates uncertainty that undermines Americas job creators and businesses.
America has been the most prosperous and free nation in the world in large part because of our adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law. Todays hearing examines how the Obama Administration has ignored this long tradition and how we can return to it.