Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Illegal, unConstitutional and Unprecedented

When they left for their Christmas break, Congress chose not to recess. President Obama has set up a potential Constitutional crisis by making a controversial recess appointment anyway, in a manner that would have been unacceptable even if Congress had recessed.

The details are here from the Washington Times:

Obama sets up clash with Congress over recess banking pick
Breaks Democrats’ own rule from Bush administration

Defying Congress, President Obama used his recess appointment powers Wednesday to name a head for the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a move Republican lawmakers said amounted to an unconstitutional power grab.

The president acted just a day after the Senate held a session — a move that breaks with at least three different precedents which have held that the Senate must be in recess for at least three days before a president can act. Mr. Obama himself was part of two of those precedents, both during his own time in the Senate and again in 2010 when one of his administration’s top lawyers made the three-day argument to the Supreme Court.
So what makes this appointment okay in his eyes?
The White House, though, argues Republican senators stonewalled the nominee for so long that Mr. Obama had no choice but to circumvent them.

The president introduced Mr. Cordray during a trip to Ohio Wednesday, telling a supportive crowd that the Senate Republicans’ ongoing blockade of his nomination “inexcusable.”

“I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer. I’ve said before that I will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward. But when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them,” Mr. Obama said.
Actually, if the legislative branch says "no," then the executive branch must take "no" for an answer with regard to Constitutionally-outlined checks and balances. That careful separation of powers and the ability to check the actions of another branch of government is what prevents a president from becoming a dictator. I've never seen the creation of a dictatorship for himself as President Obama's goal, but he's certainly handed those who do potent ammunition with this decision.

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