Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Big Picture

As House Republicans prepare a legislative package that would fully fund the Department of Homeland Security while denying funding for the president's fiats on immigration, Speaker Boehner makes clear that concern over a violation of Constitutional norms motivates much of the GOP's actions:
“Our goal here is to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Our second goal is to stop the president’s executive overreach,” he said. “This is not the way our government was intended to work. The president said 22 times that he didn’t have the authority to do what he eventually did. He knows the truth here and so do the American people.”
Along the lines of those norms, Joel Gehrke reports on a memo written by an expert at the Law Library of the Library of Congress to the Senate Judiciary Committee that makes clear the long tradition of the executive being obligated to enforce the law.  Even the kings of England could not nullify laws at a whim:
One hundred years before the American Revolution, another British king had “attempted to suspend a number of laws,” contributing to the onset of the Glorious Revolution in England, a senior foreign-law specialist at the Law Library writes in the memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “King George III,” the specialist goes on to remind the committee, “was thus unable to enact or repeal any laws unilaterally without the involvement of Parliament.”
Some of the president's allies may be cheering executive absolutism now, but the notion of an executive with absolute power runs afoul of many intellectual strands within the American political tradition.

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