“So Sue Me”: Presidential Taunts and Constitutional Consequences | JONATHAN TURLEY
From a law professor that voted for Obama in 2008…
By Jonathan Turley
Below is my column yesterday in the Sunday New York Daily News on the unfolding controversy over President Obama’s unilateral actions to circumvent Congress. The pledge of the President to “go it alone” has already resulted in court losses for the Administration and a growing separation of powers crisis. I testified (here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. I ran another column recently listing such incidents of executive over-reach that ideally would have included this potentially huge commitment under Obama’s claimed discretionary authority. I happen to believe that the President is right in many of these areas but that does not excuse the means that he is using to achieve these goals.
The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court late last month that President Obama violated the separation of powers in appointing officials is the type of decision that usually concentrates the mind of a chief executive. Obama, however, appeared to double down on his strategy — stating in a Rose Garden speech on Tuesday that he intended to expand, not reduce, his use of unilateral actions to circumvent Congress.
Summing up his position, the President threw down the gauntlet at Congress: “So sue me.”
… In our system, there is no license to go it alone. Rather, the Republic’s democratic architecture requires compromise. The process is designed to moderate legislation and create a broader consensus in support of these laws. Nor is congressional refusal to act on a particular prescription of how to fix the economy or repair immigration laws an excuse. Sometimes the country (and by extension Congress) is divided. When that happens, less gets done. The Framers understood such times. They lived in such a time.
While Obama did not create the über-presidency, he has pushed it to a new level of autonomy and authority. It is a model that Democrats may soon regret. Just as Obama has unilaterally rewritten federal laws and ordered the nonenforcement of others, the next President could use the same authority to gut environmental or employment discrimination laws. An über-President is only liberating when he is your über-President.