George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, familiar to Nevadans for his representation of Area 51 workers who claimed they were injured by burning toxic material, testified before a House committee recently and accused Obama of acting outside the constricts of the Constitution.
“When a president claims the inherent power of both legislation and enforcement, he becomes a virtual government unto himself,” Turley wrote in written testimony. “He is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he becomes the very danger that the Constitution was designed to avoid.”
Turley, who is a political liberal, was specifically addressing Obama’s unilateral waiver of various deadlines and regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act, he also has labeled Obama an “Imperial President” over his nonrecess recess appointments that circumvent the Senate’s advise and consent role — a stance agreed with by two courts. He also mentioned Obama’s administrative “passage” of the DREAM Act and refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Notably, the unilateral change occurred when legislation addressing this issue was being debated in Congress. Moreover, this change was made after an outcry over what many viewed as the central selling point of the President’s during the debate over the ACA: suggesting that, if people liked their current policies, they would be allowed to keep them. After securing passage of the ACA, however, on a thin vote margin, many accused the President of a bait-and-switch when millions lost their policies. I will leave others to work through the merits of that controversy. For my purposes, I am only interested in the fact that a key issue discussed during the debate over the legislation was unilaterally altered after passage. This is an obviously important part of the debate. The law does not expressly give the President the authority to waive the application of the provisions for selected groups. To the extent that the President was claiming that he had the authority to amend the law in this way, I fail again to see the legal basis for such authority.”
Turley quotes James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 51 on separation of powers:
“But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
Ambition or imperial conceit?