Friday, November 21, 2014

Why The President's Unconstitutional Action On Illegal Aliens Matters

No, not that it matters like the Gospel matters but still matters because even though something is not the most important thing, it can still be important.

Before we start, I would invite you to go review Article Two of the United States Constitution. Go ahead, I will wait. While you are there look for any mention of changing the immigration status of illegal aliens. OK, back? Good. I assume you didn't find any explicit or even implicit mention of immigration because it doesn't exist.

There are a couple of reasons why this is important. The first is the more pragmatic, less important reason and one that people giggling about Obama's executive action because they like what it does obviously haven't considered. The problem is that the exercise of executive power in this way, untethered from the Constitutional limits imposed on the President,

Imagine one of those awful conservatives getting elected to the Presidency in the post- "I have a pen and ain't afeerd to use it!" era of Obama executive orders. Then imagine that over the objections of Congress this President decides that one of the Right's pet issues for a long time, making English the official language of the U.S., has been languishing for too long and signs as executive order making English our official language. Further, to add some teeth to this law he also orders that anyone printing bi-lingual signs is in violation of this law and creates civil and criminal sanctions for doing so. Now the very common practice of printing materials in English and Spanish can get you landed in jail. Think that couldn't happen? Think again, the legal basis is as strong as the basis for Obama's action. It is hard to make things happen when you need to get both houses of Congress and the President to agree. One man with a pen who ain't afeerd to use it? That is a recipe for mischief of all sorts.

The bigger issue is that this is an example of a President seeking to tilt the delicate and intentional balance between the branches in a major way toward an overly authoritarian Executive branch. The Executive branch is designed to, among other functions, to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. This is important: those laws are crafted and enacted by Congress, with the signature of the President or an override of his veto. Clearly many Presidents have chafed under this restriction and sought more power to be concentrated in the Executive branch (think FDR) but few have been so brazen and arrogant. Ours is a President who not only thinks he is better than the rest of us, but that we are in fact inferior to him in every way. Not just Joe Factory Worker or other regular people but everyone from Congress to the Courts. He is clearly frustrated by having to cooperate with inferiors who should just let him do as he pleases because he knows what is best for us, more so than we do.

Many probably think such talk is alarmist and quaint. After all the world has changed and the Constitution is just a dusty old document from ancient history. I think it still matters, far more today then in the 18th century. The President commands the largest, deadliest military in world history and runs a bureaucracy that has a budget of trillions of dollars. The size is unimaginable even to modern minds but it is exactly what the Founders were trying to avoid. The men who designed our system of government were very careful to craft a system that limited the size and scope of the government and especially the power of the President. Knowing first hand how quickly a single individual with power can run amok they wrote the Constitution precisely to avoid concentrating power in the hands of a single executive and pretty much every President ever since has sought to change that balance.

President Obama's action is not just petty political posturing, although it certainly is that. It is a sign of a shift that envisions a very different sort of government and a very different sort of people being governed, a people less free and more akin to serfs than citizens. Be very careful when you applaud and celebrate something like this because you never know what the consequences might be.


Jeremy Myers said...

Great post, and right on. The issue is not so much about illegal aliens, but about the abuse of the power of the executive branch.

Aussie John said...


We have recently rid ourselves of a P.M. who was of the same ilk as your President, who was arrogantly rude as he pressed his personal agendas in the speeches he made whilst at the G20 meetings in Australia.

He actually boasted that he was going to make some unilateral decisions when he went home.

Our Marxists love him.