2nd House Judiciary Hearing Examines Obama's Abuses Of Power As Obama Threatens More
This week is “Stop Government Abuse Week” on Capitol Hill, and House Republicans are focusing on passing 12 bills designed to do just that.
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing, this morning to address the president's escalating executive overreaches.
The first of the hearing's two panels consisted of four House Republicans who provided testimonies describing the steps they've taken to deal with Obama's serial abuses of power.
Two of the congressmen mentioned impeachment as a possible but undesirable political remedy.
Rep Jim Gerlach (R-PA) said, "I think we can agree that Congress has fairly limited means of redress in the event that the executive branch circumvents the legislative branch through its decisions not to enforce certain federal law. Congress can try to pass new laws to either remedy or defund a violating action – but a president who undertook the action will not likely support the measure. Where the action rises to a 'high crime or misdemeanor', the House may initiate an impeachment proceeding. But, such an avenue would surely be extremely divisive within the Congress and the nation generally, and would divert the attention of Congress from other important issues of the day. Finally, judicial relief could be sought, but we well know that that process can take years and years while the underlying transgression continues."
Rep. H. Tom Rice (R-SC) testified, "the 'take care' clause in Article II, section 3 of the Constitution provides that the President shall 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed.' While the President has the right to exercise reasonable discretion, he may not choose which laws shall be enforced. This is fundamental to our constitutional framework. Knowing the expectations for the executive branch, I have watched President Obama’s various actions with great dismay.
My constituents overwhelmingly share this dismay. Throughout my first months in office, my constituents continually voiced the same refrain: President Obama is overstepping the bounds of his office and Congress is doing nothing to stop his power grabs. Some have even suggested impeachment. If the President can continually use his discretion to rewrite laws without congressional approval, the House of Representatives and the Senate may as well cease to exist. This erosion of our separation of powers diminishes our democracy; leaving us with an imperial presidency."
The second panel consisted of the following law professors: Mr. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, Ms. Elizabeth Price Foley of Florida International University College of Law, and Mr. Christopher Schroeder of Duke University Law School.
Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked the panel what appeared a rhetorical question, “Is unilateral decision making good for our Republican system of government?"
Turley, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Obama’s executive overreach, said, “the greatest danger that we have, really cannot be overstated, is when he have the concentration of power in one branch. That is precisely the sort of power the framers were seeking to avoid.”
“What people often miss, he continued ”is that the separation of powers was not about protecting Congress – -separation of powers was designed for the protection of liberty. It was to prevent the concentration of power in any of the branches that would threaten the individual citizen.”
Goodlatte asked Professor Foley what she thought the longterm institutional consequences would be if the current practice of “benevolent suspensions of the law” isn’t stopped.
She answered that people are going to continue to be cynical about government and the Constitution, and ultimately the practice will erode respect for the rule of law.
She also brought up the point that Obama's executive abuses make it less likely for Congress to tackle big issues like immigration reform, ”why would you go through the trouble of reaching a very delicate political compromise on an issue like that if you think that the president is going to just benevolently suspend those portions of the law he doesn’t like after you reach that compromise.” She concluded, “if you want to stay relevant as an institution, I would suggest that you not stand idly by and let the president take your power away.”
Goodlatte then asked about the principle of prosecutorial discretion on which Obama’s “deferred actions” are based. “Does prosecutorial discretion have such elasticity that a whole class of people could be recipients of deferred actions based simply on them being in the category…?
Foley said, “yeah, this is sort of a dangerous and scary moment – uh, that’s not discretion – that’s raw, lawmaking power.” (Video here.)
The House Judiciary Committee held a similar hearing last December in which four experts with a mix of legal, constitutional and health policy backgrounds testified. It was at that hearing that Professor Turley warned of the rise of an "Uber Presidency."
Clearly there is a great deal of consternation and concern in Washington and throughout the halls of academia over Obama's "Uber-Presidency."
So you might well wonder-- how is the president responding to the concerns of so many Americans that he is abusing his power? Does he care that there have now been two hearings in Congress on the subject of his lawless actions in which the dreaded "I word" was mentioned as a possible remedy?
Well - see for yourself:
I should mention that the Democrats have been fundraising off the threat of Obama getting impeached for months.