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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Law Professor Says U.S. At A ‘Constitutional Tipping Point’

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley says a “massive gravitational shift” of power to the presidency has created a “constitutional crisis” for the U.S.

In his testimony at a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Turley said this shift did not begin with President Obama, but that “it has accelerated at an alarming rate under this administration.” Turley emphasized that he does not view the president as a dictator, but he does think the problem is urgent.

The following is an excerpt of his prepared remarks:

As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they were done in the circumvention of Congress. For example, when President Obama unilaterally acted on greenhouse gas pollutants, I was initially relieved. I agree entirely with the priority that he has given this issue. However, it takes an act of willful blindness to ignore that the greenhouse regulations were implemented only after Congress rejected such measures and that a new sweeping regulatory scheme is now being promulgated solely upon the authority of the President. We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.

Turley joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the issue.

Interview Highlights: Jonathan Turley

On President Obama’s role in the power shift

“This certainly did not begin with him. We’ve seen a gradual sort of gravitational shift of power from the legislative to the executive branch. It was prominent during the Bush years, where I was also very critical, but it certainly accelerated under President Obama. And the most serious violations, in my view, are various cases when he went to Congress, as in the immigration field, as in the healthcare field, as for very specific things, and was rejected, and then decided just to order those on his own. He’s also been accused of shifting large amounts of money from their appointed or appropriated purpose to other purposes. These really drive at the heart of the separation of powers.”

On the acceleration of this power shift

“These are really sort of Fellini-esque moments for someone who studies the Constitution. The framers assumed — most famously, James Madison — that ambition would check ambition in our system. But the legislative branch, for the last two presidents, has been virtually inured. It’s gotten to the point where the shift of power is so significant that I think we have to stop and take notice. There’s no question that previous presidents abused their power, but what we’re seeing with the Obama administration is really a systemic circumvention of Congress, and remarkably, he’s doing that with the applause of his own party, members of the legislative branch.”

On how he feels the American people should be reacting

“People need to understand, policies change and even presidents change. But these powers are hard to get back, and I think that people will rue the day when they were silent as we created this über-presidency, this massively powerful presidency, and created this instability within the system. Because what Madison really foresaw was that the three branches were like orbs or planets, that were locked in orbit by their self interest, by their checks and balances. That’s a very unstable orbit now, because of this shift of power. And the problem that we have is this concept of ‘all is fair in love and politics,’ that people can’t see beyond how they feel about immigration, and how they feel about environment, or more importantly, how they feel about President Obama. And that’s very short-sighted. They have to see a farther horizon that’s going to affect our children when we change the system.”

Guest

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

Well, now let's get to Washington, where the question is not about vetoing legislation, which the president does have the constitutional authority to do, it's about whether he has the authority to not enforce or not defend existing laws that he doesn't agree with.

There was a big hearing about that yesterday in the House chaired by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, that's a Republican from Virginia.

REPRESENTATIVE BOB GOODLATTE: From Obamacare to welfare and education reform to our nation's drug enforcement and immigration laws, President Obama has been picking and choosing which laws to enforce. But the Constitution does not confer upon the president the executive authority to disregard the separation of powers and write or rewrite acts of Congress.

HOBSON: Well, joining us now for more on this is someone who testified at yesterday's hearing, constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley. He's a professor of law at the George Washington University, and he's with us from Washington. Jonathan, welcome back.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you.

HOBSON: Well, this whole argument really heated up when the administration decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act back in 2011. There have also been complaints about whether they are enforcing the immigration laws. In your view, is there anything the president is doing that is unconstitutional?

TURLEY: I'm afraid I think he is violating the Constitution. He's certainly violating the separation of powers. This certainly did not begin with him. We've seen a gradual sort of gravitational shift of power from the legislative to the executive branch. It was prominent during the Bush years, where I was also very critical, but it certainly accelerated under President Obama.

And the most serious violations, in my view, are various cases where he went to Congress, as in the immigration field, as in the health care field, asked for very specific things and was rejected and then decided just to order those on his own. He's also been accused of shifting large amounts of money from their appointed or appropriated purpose to other purposes.

These really drive at the heart of the separation of powers. And what concerns me, even though I happen to agree with many of his priorities, is that people are so caught up in this poisonous political environment that there's not even a whimper of concern or opposition as we see our system change fundamentally, and I think it is changing. I think that we're seeing an imbalance of power in a system based on three equal branches.

HOBSON: But you say this has been done before. So tell us about the precedent for this? Because a lot of people just hearing the setup to this story will say wait a minute, why are you picking on President Obama? He's just doing things that have been done before.

TURLEY: Well certainly I was critical of his predecessor, but President Obama has taken it to a new level. I mean, when he went to Congress and said that he was going to go it alone, it was an amazing moment where various members of Congress cheered. It reminded me of when Holder went to an audience of lawyers and told them of the kill list policy, where the president was asserting the right to kill a citizen without a charge or conviction, and he received applause.

These are really sort of Felliniesque moments for someone who studies the Constitution. The framers assumed, most famously James Madison, that ambition would check ambition in our system. But the legislative branch for the last two presidents has been virtually inert. It's gotten to the point where the shift of power is so significant that I think we have to stop and take notice.

And there's no question that previous presidents abused their power. But what we're seeing with the Obama administration is really a systemic circumvention of Congress. And remarkably he's doing that with the applause of his own party, members of the legislative branch.

HOBSON: But the White House would say, and they have said, that as you say, Congress is not acting right now. They're not doing very much at all. And the president says it's his responsibility to act. And so he's doing what he can through his executive authority.

TURLEY: Well, I'm afraid I'm not convinced by that argument, quite frankly. It's not enough to say that he wouldn't do this if you simply did what he wanted you to do. The framers didn't guarantee that we would reach compromise. There's a very good reason why we're having difficulty today. This country is deeply divided.

And as representatives of the people, you find that Congress is divided. But people need to understand policies change. And even presidents change. But these powers are hard to get back. And I think that people will rue the day when they were silent as we created this uber-presidency, this massively powerful presidency and created this instability within the system because what Madison really foresaw was that the three branches were like orbs or planets that were locked in orbit by their self-interest, by their checks and balances.

That's a very unstable orbit now because of this shift of power. And the problem that we have is this concept of all is fair in, you know, love and politics, that people can't see beyond how they feel about immigration or how they feel about the environment or more importantly about how they feel about President Obama. And that's very short-sighted. They have to see a farther horizon that's going to affect our children when we change the system.

HOBSON: Well, is it constitutional, for example, for Eric Holder, the attorney general, to do what he just did, which is to tell his state counterparts, attorneys general in the states, that they are not obliged to defend bans on gay marriage?

TURLEY: I thought that was a serious mistake in one respect. I understand that he felt he could not support DOMA. I don't support DOMA. I thought, however, he acted inappropriately when he pulled out from the defense of a duly enacted law signed by President Clinton and did not appoint a special counsel or a third party, someone who could represent the United States.

When Windsor and Hollingsworth, the two cases that went to the Supreme Court, went before the court, much of this confusion existed as to whether they could even hear the case. And in the California case, the court found that there was no standing because the attorney generals(ph) in that case - the attorney general had withdrawn.

I don't think that advances the rule of law. I mean, there are good-faith arguments on both of these cases. I happen to agree with the president on them. But we should want them argued, and we should want them argued well and not pull the ladder up after refusing to defend these laws.

HOBSON: Well Jonathan Turley, what do you suggest should be done at this point? And is there a role for the courts?

TURLEY: Well, I think the most important thing is to try to reinforce the concept of member standing. That's the reason I was very happy that this hearing focused on that. A lot of the problem that we're having in Washington is not because of the politics. The framers lived in this period. They foresaw this period.

I mean, they used to call - I mean, Jefferson called the Federalists the reign of the witches. They were trying to kill each other literally during that period. So there's nothing new about our politics. But what the framers gave us was a system by which we could harness the energy, even the division, and come out with compromise.

But that's not going to happen unless the courts step up to the plate and in my view do their job. The courts have essentially removed themselves from this process and are refusing to deal with separation of powers questions, and that has left the two branches in this sort of raw power play that we see every day.

HOBSON: Jonathan Turley, professor of law at the George Washington University. Thanks so much.

TURLEY: My great pleasure.

HOBSON: This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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  • Kathy

    I think this is a very dangerous precedent, but I don’t really see what other options we have as a country as long as the Republican Party is actively undermining the basic functioning of Congress.

    • Frog

      Republicans are passing bills that Senate Democrats and the President don’t like and ignore. Option? Convince people of your viewpoint and win back Congress.

      • loyal listener

        Exactly. And Obama shows no genuine interest in working with the Republicans anyway.

        • J__o__h__n

          Nonsense. He wasted at least two years trying to compromise with them. Too bad he didn’t wake up sooner instead of believing his bipartisan campaign BS.

          • loyal listener

            I’m glad we agree that most of his campaign propaganda was BS. And that he never had any intention of compromising with Republicans or working in a bipartisan fashion.

          • J__o__h__n

            I said the bipartisan part was BS.

          • loyal listener

            Yes I agree, Obama never had any intention of being bipartisan, and has never made any effort in his political career to do so.

        • RAOUL ORNELAS

          Seriously are you serious?????

          • loyal listener

            Seriously, Senor. I am seriously serious.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            Your reply has made my point – thanks. How do you know that I am not Portuguese? But really sir, I am an American just like you. I know it is difficult for you to accept this salient fact.

      • Mike

        Works both ways. Both parties introduce bills and the other votes against them.

        The President hasn’t had to “ignore” (veto or not sign) much– Congress hasn’t passed much for the President to “ignore”.

        Convincing people doesn’t work anymore because voting districts have been so gerrymandered that every district is set in it’s way and will not listen let alone change their minds.

        • Mister A

          Many, many bills get passed by the House only to wind up festering on Harry Reid’s desk. He refuses to even bring them to a vote because they don’t align with his exact desires. This isn’t “working both ways.”

          • loyal listener

            Good point, and it’s something that the mainstream media (including NPR) always ignore.

          • Mike

            Like repealing ObamaCare. How many times did the House send that to the Senate?
            By “both ways” I mean the Senate passes bills that the House votes down or does not vote on. And the House sends bills to the Senate that it votes down or does not vote on. That’s the way Congress has been deadlocked for quite a few years. And, sadly, it’s not likely to change because of the gerrymandered voting districts (both sides– red and blue).

          • Mister A

            The bills that the House passed during the Shutdown were, in fact, NOT repeals of Obamacare. They were attempts to delay certain mandates/provisions of Ocare and were NEVER brought to a vote in the Senate. Remember? Harry Reid and Obama said “we will not negotiate.” Oh, but the Repubs are extremists/terrorists/arsonists/whatever ad hominem you want to insert. And, the sad part? Obama delayed those very mandates anyway after all the name-calling, posturing and demagoguery… without Congress… unconstitutionally. You starting to see why this political theater is completely bogus and why this Prof Turley might actually have a point?

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            The reason these Bills festering at Harry Ried’s desk because they all have the same republican theme which are:
            More tax breaks for the wealthy.
            No abortions for women whom may need one.
            End Social Security that the majority of us pay and continue to pay into.
            End Medicare.
            End the Affordable Healthcare act.

            These are just a few of the same old repeatable items Republicans call constructive bills.
            According to Republicans, if we proceed with the above,Republicans could make jobs in America, but the real not so subliminal message is this: Jobs will be made in Asia and the majority of products made in America will be made by robots. The other interesting thing about a person who still has a job where robots are used, it is just a matter of time when said person will lose his or her job to a robotic process. In short, in the long run, robots are the purest form of cheap labor on the planet! Robots don’t have to be kidnapped to be 12 year slaves, they could not care less as long is there is enough oil to lubricate their parts, because they can work forever and be replaced by better models in future. Question: How come we don’t use robots in the House of Representatives? Whoops, I forgot we already have at least two: Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.

          • Mister A

            Firstly, several of the bills passed by the House were basically just extensions of the different mandates in Obamacare, and these are exactly what the President unilaterally implemented after chastising Republicans during the shutdown. Oh, and I suppose the Senate saved face by never voting on the bills while Harry quietly tossed them in the circular file.
            Secondly, you’re right. Automation is a threat to certain jobs, but it can only go so far (until of course, Skynet becomes self-aware). There must be someone qualified to maintain the machines, so one could argue that automation encourages growth for higher skilled labor. Personally, I’m more concerned with ongoing destructive economic and monetary policy than which small percentage of the work force might get replaced by automation.

  • loyal listener

    THANK YOU for finally giving some air time to this very important topic!!!
    Obama has been acting like a dictator. I don’t care how “historic” his presidency is, he needs to be impeached for completely disregarding the constitution! I’m not saying to impeach him simply because I don’t like him, but rather because he has broken the law on many, many occasions. Even some liberals, like your guest, are starting to take note. He brought up many good examples of Obama’s abuse of power…however, there are many more that he did not mention.

    The host kept trying to steer the blame onto President Bush. NIce try, but the guest put him back in his place and kept it on topic.

    • RAOUL ORNELAS

      When a person has a mental disorder it useless to carry on with a civil debate. Proof: Look at the content of the comment. One is given, said person, was schooled in the school of Ted Nugent. Loyal Listener, your doing a hell of job, but first get some mental health assistance.

      • loyal listener

        And you can work on learning proper grammar, please. Your vs. you’re… learn the difference because it’s making you look stupid.

        • flippypog

          Didn’t have a comeback so resorted to insults. Good job, jerkwad.

          • Mister A

            The entirety of the comment loyal listener was responding to was a long, drawn-out ad hominem. ZERO substance. Only speculation and insult. And you, flippypog, also added zero substance to the conversation. Please, at least add something to the topic at hand.

            Loyal listener, I agree that this disturbing trend in presidential/executive overreach needs more attention and should be covered by more media than just NPR. However, good for NPR for actually putting this out there.

          • flippypog

            My input = quality of opposing input.

          • loyal listener

            Are you talking about yourself? Because your name calling makes you look really intelligent.

          • flippypog

            I know – coming from you, thanks.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            A negative comment coming from Loyal Listener is like receiving an Oscar. Flippypog, keep putting on the pressure, your doing a hell of a job. Maybe we will finally expose who the real Loyal Listener is?

          • loyal listener

            Again, wrong “your / you’re”…..

            You speaka the ingles?

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            Ya you betcha? How about Norwegian?

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            Cool stuff. Where in the hell did you come up with flippypog and jerkwad? I could not find either adjective in the dictionary or the thesaurus? However, I am beginning to unravel the intrigue concerning who loyal listener really is. Loyal Listener must be either David H. Koch or Charles G. Koch hiding under a nom de plume from a catalog of endless carapace of shell names.

          • flippypog

            Not sure where “jerkwad” came from; thought it was something used fairly frequently to describe people such as “loyal listener” and others following the right-wing agenda / talking points. “Flippypog” is a combo of my two Jack Russells who, alas, passed away a few years back. Thanks, Raoul – good man.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            Flippypog, we finally broke through carapace of Loyal Listener – I detect a hint of humor….. which is a rare thing these days among right wing nuts. The good news is this: There is still hope for Loyal Listener.

          • flippypog

            “Alright alright alright!” quoted my fav actor right now.

          • loyal listener

            LOL you crack me up

    • flippypog

      Congress has in fact violated the Constitution so many times in the last two years even I’ve lost count, and I can count pretty high. Impeachment should have already begun for Boehner, McConnell, Issa, Cruz, and the rest of those fascists plutocrats. And before them, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and the rest of those fascist neocons responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan.

      • Mister A

        Please cite one source.

        • flippypog

          Bush / Cheney lying to Congress

          • Mister A

            That’s not really a source is it… I’m also not concerned with previous administration. Please, cite a source backing your claim that Congress has violated the constitution. Thanks. Also, I noticed you only chastised Republicans… do you honestly think Dems don’t do the exact same thing?

          • flippypog

            Because with few exceptions, Republicans are THE problem. As far constitutional violations, too many to go into since 2010 on Congress but needless to say, most actions by Republicans are actually doing worse than subverting the original intent of the Founders where it concerns Congress. Democrats have been a bit wimpy in the past but are starting to grow some, so with any luck, Republicans will be run out of office wholesale this year then something good will get done (long overdue).

          • Mister A

            So, you essentially advocate for a single political party with no balance of power or dissenting opinions? Exactly what this professor warns against (also, completely defeats the purpose of our governmental structure). And, if there are so many constitutional violations by Repubs, you should easily be able to provide me with one. Just one, and I’ll concede that point (and likely point you to when it happened on the other side of the aisle as well). I’m not going to do this diligence for you, because you made the initial claim. However, I do appreciate the civil discourse.

          • flippypog

            The Republican Party is an affront to common sense. It has been co-opted by a bunch of Cro-Magnons (i.e. Tea Party, Evangelicals, militias, etc.). We’re the laughing stock of the world. However, am surprised you’d be so naïve as to think I’m advancing a one-party system. Am all for a two or more party system, just so long as they all work together. Since Republicans want to take the “my way or the highway” approach, it’s time we jettison them just long enough to move this country forward before it’s too late (if it isn’t already; New Zealand’s looking mighty good right now – a legitimate democracy vs. our plutocracy). So it’s not necessary for me to denote specific instances of unconstitutional and downright treasonous behavior on the part of what we laughingly call the Republican Party nowadays as it’s perfectly obvious to anyone who keeps up with all the nooks and crannies of political discourse as much as I do (i.e. it should be obvious to anyone, including you, my friend).

          • Mister A

            It’s obvious that both sides are guilty of what you are attributing to a single party. From my perspective, to believe otherwise seems counterintuitive. Whatever gripes you have with Republicans you should also have with Democrats. This is the very reason limiting the scope of government should be a priority, but we are going the opposite direction.

          • LightingtheLampofLiberty

            Do you understand we are a Republic not a Democracy? Do you know the difference between a democracy and a republic? The difference is where the authority comes from. A democracy is mob rule and republic receives its power from a higher authority. We believe all men are created equal. If we are created that means there is a creator. No matter what you believe that is the belief system our country was founded on. The Judeo Christian view is the only view in the world that believes people are equal. Don’t mistake the fact that we believe we are created equal that everyone should have an equal outcome, because that simply is not true. Your outcome is based on your own merits. Do you know the difference between Freedom and Liberty? Freedom means you are free to do whatever your heart desires good or bad. Liberty is freedom plus morality. Such as Thou shall not kill; thou shall not steal; thou shall not commit adultery. We broke away from England because of a tyrannical government. When the constitution was ratified we were 13 individual States or Nations. These states organized a Federal government with limited powers, because why on earth would they free themselves from England and turn around and give too much power to a federal government. They wouldn’t and they didn’t. Our federal government is out of control and overreaching into the rights of the states and the people. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both support the thought that the only way to control an over reaching federal government is nullification. The states need to start nullifying and not enforcing illegal federal laws they have no authority to enact. Affordable Care Act is an illegal act and the states do not have to enforce it. EPA is an illegal federal agency the constitution gives them no authority to create this organization and the States have no obligation to enforce illegal federal laws. The list goes on and on. Washington is lost to us they are so corrupt there is no hope to change things at a federal level. The only hope we have is to take back our country one county at a time. Your Sheriff is the highest elected official in your county, if your sheriff does not uphold his oath of office to protect the constitution because he chooses not to or does not understand the constitution, or is afraid of retaliation if he upholds his oath of office, then find a sheriff that will protect your constitutional rights. From the ground up we can peacefully restore the constitution through education and electing officials that protect the constitution. The problems we face are not a Republican or Democrat issue they are an American issue. Unless we want to lose the freedom and liberty our forefathers gave their lives for us to have, we better get busy and defend it.

          • Derek Darwin

            I agree with you except for the fact that one has to believe in creation by a god in order to be created. If one was an atheist, it could still be so that we are all created equal in our rights as we were all created of the force of nature. I didn’t mean for this to sound as though I was trying to contradict you, I wasn’t. I only hoped to add that one didn’t have to be of the Judeo Christian belief to recognize that all on the earth were created equal.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            “Do you understand we are a Republic not a Democracy? Do you know the difference between a democracy and a republic?”
            Answer: Yes, we stole America fair and square from the American Natives. Therefore our great so called Forefathers created not a Republic or a Democracy, they created a dictatorship using some god to make the theft appear legal.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            Apology accepted.

          • egumpher

            Please give one example.

          • Derek Darwin

            It’s easy to see, flippypog, that you’ve bought into Obama’s deflection away from his own hyperpartizanship, aversion of compromise, substance of his policies, and methods with which he enacts them.

          • flippypog

            … and you’ve been bought by the Koch brothers, Tea Partiers (i.e. fascists), the radical / evangelical right, & Faux News.

          • Derek Darwin

            Why do you assume that I’m conservative? If Someone who doesn’t buy into Obamas crap, it doesn’t make them anything necessarily. You continue to elucidate your own ignorance. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else for that matter any favors.

          • TheSunDidIt

            First of all, I do not trust Bush or Cheny and did not. I saw the Patriot Act as an assault on the Constitution the day they started discussing it. But, I’m sure you’re referring to the WMD. Just to set that record straight for you, the media buried the truth and then LIED about it. There was WMD in Iraq prior to the start of the conflict. The massive stocks that are in Syria today because Assad blew up one of his own dams to allow a flood so that Saddam could send “aid” which was actually WMD’s. Check the news reports PRIOR to the war in 2001-03. And remember the mobile labs? They were loaded with Chlorine. No bio weapons found. Interesting thing there is that you decontaminate ALL bio weapons with CHLORINE. So, do not try to excuse Obama and blame Bush. Bush may have been no more than another RINO but, he didn’t lie about the WMD being there. And, we DID get hit with some of it placed into the IED’s early on. Till they found out they don’t work that way.

        • egumpher

          Congress passes a bill and sends it to the President
          to approve. The President approves it. But later decides to change the law
          without going back through congress.

        • RAOUL ORNELAS

          Koch Brothers & Rush Limbaugh….. through in Sean Hannity for good measure – were up to three sources and counting. Whoops, I forgot Ted Nugent. This makes four in counting.

          • Mister A

            The conversation was about Repubs in Congress committing unconstitutional acts. By “source” I meant a link to an instance of this.

      • loyal listener

        Yeah. … If you can count so high, how about counting to one and give us one example please. I think this topic might be over your head.

        • RAOUL ORNELAS

          It is. Example: The Koch Brothers.

          • TheSunDidIt

            They are not in office and have taken no oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the nation; as I have. And, how about Soros and all the liberal moneybags just as vile if not more so? You don’t love the nation. You love only yourself and your politics.

          • RAOUL ORNELAS

            They may not be in office but they exert subliminal influence using their great wealth to influence others who have taken the oath to protect and defend the constitution but turn the patriotic cheek for the sake of money and doing absolutely noting for their country.
            Once more, you are dead wrong, as a person who served his country in America’s Armed Forces, I also took an oath to defend the constitution and my country as a free thinking citizen and not as some sort right wing nut who never served his country in any form or manner.

          • Thepiedpirate

            Then defend the constitution, not your politics.

          • TheSunDidIt

            Defend Soros and ALL the media moguls and the Google and Facebook and all the other silicon valley big money liberal interests and THEN talk to us about the ONE truly conservative rich donor. Till then, you’re hypocrite. I’m not a big fan of big money pulling undo power to it’s goals. However, before you try goring my ox, go gore your own OXEN that pull the weight for your twisted views.

          • Thepiedpirate

            Have you graduated from elementary school yet?

        • Thepiedpirate

          Here here – yes provide one example

      • TheSunDidIt

        I think you should have started that list with Reid and Pelosi. As it is, you’ve revealed yourself as not a conservative but a liberal “visitor” to the site.

  • http://nefariousnewt.blogspot.com NefariousNewt

    The Constitution is just fine. it has survived every kind of President under the Sun. Compared to some before him, President Obama has used his executive power sparingly, and at that, only when Congress has proven incapable or unwilling to step up and take actions that are in the best interests of the People of the United States.

    As to the wailing about “tyranny” and “dictatorship,” I would remind those who throw such hyperbole around that if he actually fir the definition of those words, you would never get to use them, because you would have been thrown into the deepest, darkest of prisons. The inflammatory rhetoric thrown around by those irked at this President’s actions show a clear need for improved Civics education in schools, to avoid creating another generation that has scant idea how the Federal government actually functions.

    • loyal listener

      Yeah well who decides what “is in the best interest of the American People”? That is a very slippery slope! Perhaps you live and think in a bubble of only other liberals like yourself, but there are very, very different opinions in this country about what is “best for the American People”. What’s the point of having a Congress if the President does whatever he wants anyway?

      • http://nefariousnewt.blogspot.com NefariousNewt

        Yes, the President does whatever he wants… which is why he magically created jobs out of thin air, took away all the People’s firearms, closed Guantanamo Bay with an eye-blink, and burned Wall Street to the ground.

        Oh wait…

        You may have a different opinion from me on any variety of issues you care to name, but at the end of the day, this President does not care what your opinion or mine is. He is charged with the solemn duty of protecting this country and its citizens from all threats foreign and domestic, and that means he will have to take actions which may not make you or I happy, but preserve the nation and protect us from harm. His track record has been pretty good in that department and if you are unwilling to recognize the reality of that, nothing I can say is going to change your mind.

        • Frog

          His actions must follow the law: Article 2 Section 3

          “HE SHALL TAKE CARE THAT THE LAWS BE FAITHFULLY EXECUTED”

          Not make them. That’s not his job.

          • http://nefariousnewt.blogspot.com NefariousNewt

            He hasn’t made one law. Not one. Neither has Congress, pretty much.

          • Frog

            I can accept that he hasn’t “made” a law. What I can’t accept is that the President has faithfully executed the laws. Many laws have been changed and whole sections ignored, including the Affordable Care Act.

          • http://nefariousnewt.blogspot.com NefariousNewt

            The ACA was passed by Congress and signed by the President, and provisions of it have been changed to help it be implemented more smoothly. What laws have been changed? Which ones have been ignored? Abstract “feelings” are not reality.

          • Mister A

            Did Jon Corzine at MF Global ever get prosecuted for “losing” 1.6 billion? No? Oh, right, there are at least 500,000 reasons why not. You also might not remember that just after this story broke, the Prez was interviewed on 60 minutes, and without even an investigation, he said “He’s done nothing wrong” offering Corzine an unofficial presidential pardon just days after the wrongdoing occurred.

      • Guest

        United States of America = Constitutional Republic
        Executive Branch (Republican or Liberal) Enforces the law
        Legislative Branch (Republican or Liberal majority) Create laws
        The Judicial Branch (Conservative or Liberal) Interprets the law
        Don’t mess with the formula…

  • J__o__h__n

    Do prosecutors have to try every accused criminal? The executive has always had discretion in the courts.

  • RAOUL ORNELAS

    “Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley says a “massive gravitational shift” of power to the presidency has created a “constitutional crisis” for the U.S.”

    Wrong. The only reason we have this faux tipping point is because elitist groups sponsored by the Koch brothers and their endless shell groups do not like a Black President governing period! In fact these same people don’t like democracy. These are the same people that overthrew the German Government from 1928 through 1937. There ideas are no different today in America. Making or inheriting too much money mangles a person’s character including his or her political thoughts which exacerbate a person’s appetite for more money and absolute power to control others with an iron fist.
    We don’t have a constitutional crisis, instead, it is about enforcing the Constitution or amending the Constitution with civility by not using right wing Republican thug tactics of obstructing the President from governing in a civil way.

    • loyal listener

      I stopped reading after you mentioned the Koch brothers and brought up the race card.

      Did you say anything important?

      Didn’t think so.

    • Mister A

      “It is about enforcing the Constitution…” I’m just stopping there, because that’s exactly what this professor was talking about. Yet, you said “Wrong” at the top of your comment. Basically, you and the president agree that the constitution should be enforced when it comes to squelching Repubs but ignored when it comes to bundlers, donors, and cronies. Yep. I said it. By the way, this happens on both sides. Neither party is infallible.

    • OC

      They’ve financed a neo-confederate outright rebellion by some of the states.

  • Christopher Thate

    I often hear complaints (especially living in Texas) about the shift of power to the executive branch. Yet they always seem to be on domestic issues.

    In my opinion the shift of war powers after World War II is the most disturbing shift. Not only does it seem to give us the ability to drop a bomb wherever, whenever, but it in part causes a further drift of the People, as represented by Congress, from the responsibility and relationship we should have to and with our military.

  • Gregg

    Obama may have said he was going to go alone more, but facts show that he has used that priviledge much less than precious presidents

    • Mister A

      This isn’t only about the use of executive orders. It’s about selective enforcement of the law and advising smaller entities to do the same. AG Holder *just* did this very thing this week when he told State Attorneys General that they didn’t have to uphold laws they didn’t agree with (not verbatim, but you get the point). This goes against common sense, and application of the law becomes arbitrary and whimsical.

  • Mike

    I sounds to me that Turley said that Obama has violated the spirit of the law. I did not hear him cite any particular law that was violated. I would think that the Republicans would ask for legal action (as they have in the past against Pres Clinton), if Obama had violated the letter of the law.

    So, what about that. Has a law been violated?

    • RAOUL ORNELAS

      No! Question: Who is paying Turley to make vague comments that have no basis. Answer: Hint – K.B. shells.

      • Mike

        Indeed. All this reminds me of the 1950′s, when Sen Joseph McCarthy made wild accusations of Communist subversion. When broadcast journalist Edward Murrow challenged McCarthy to show evidence, the reign of terror began to subside.
        So, if there’s evidence of violation of law, let’s hear it. Otherwise, let’s move on.

  • it_disqus

    I agree with the guest. The division in Congress is the same as the division in the country. The Constitution is there to protect both sides of that division through checks and balances.

  • flippypog

    The things Obama is doing are well within his powers; he have even mentioned on several occasions those limits after which Congress must do something. The dictatorship / power shift label needs to be placed squarely on Congress for abuse of power and failure to maintain their oaths as public servants. This is as clear as day though not to this commentator obviously.

    • it_disqus

      The Senate did abuse power when Reed imposed the nuclear option.

      • Mike

        Did Sen Reed violate Senate rules? Were the Republicans threatening rule violation when they considered the “nuclear option” several years ago?

  • it_disqus

    “We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means”….Well said Jonathan Turley. Most of the comments here prove your point.

    • Thepiedpirate

      Agree – their comments show they don’t understand the implications, don’t know the implications or don’t care about the constitution. I believe we are playing with fire by abandoning the constitution.

    • OC

      I am not an Obama fan, but he was the best we were offered. The professor left out too much. It’s too little said, too late. It’s been Obama against global forces we can’t comprehend pulling the strings of the Pimps of Congress from FAR away. They want to use the Black man to complete their coup d’etat and have it be his legacy. That’s what I have seen.

  • Tim Smith

    The constitution has been murdered by limited government haters. Good thing Americans are still armed to the teeth, and will stay that way. That is our only security now. Surely not the dimwhits who swear oaths on formality and preach utopian policies. SMH

  • lilylongflower1

    great read thank you. let’s remember that bush had a very agreeable congress to work with. in contrast, the day after obama was elected the top repub leadership announced to the world via the press that their job as they saw it was to obstruct him as much as possible. big difference.

    • Mister A

      Yet, his first two years in office, he presided over Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, right? So, all this obstructionist talk should be introspective as well. Think about Harry Reid and all he’s NOT done in the name of partisanship. Oh, and he likes to chastise private citizens, like cancer patients.

      We shouldn’t be comparing Obama to Bush (we all know they’re quite different). Obama has primarily been an *extension* and an *escalation* of Bush’s executive power grabbing. It’s a good article and a disturbing trend, but if you find reason to criticize Bush on this topic, you should find all the more reason to criticize Obama.

    • LightingtheLampofLiberty

      The point of this entire article is being lost. “We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means”….Jonathan Turley. It’s great when our President is making changes you agree with. Who cares, if it’s not constitutional because you are getting what you want. Someday you will care, because someday it will be thing important to you and when the President stomps on the things that are important to you, you will regret not stopping the illegal actions and standing by and watching your rights disappear. This administration seems to be a master at dividing people and they have the media in their pocket to help them create the division. Have you heard the old saying, United we stand and divided we fall. We need to stop bickering with each other over our differences and Unite on the things we agree upon. The American people are capable of restoring our Constitution. I am afraid for our children and our grandchildren if we don’t start protecting, enforcing and restoring our Constitution. The Patriot Act, one of them most unconstitutional illegal acts ever passed. It doesn’t matter what party the government will never waste an emotional moment to take our freedoms away for the illusion of security. This was passed right after 911 by President Bush, and Obama has exploited this illegal law even to the point of killing Americans. They are trying to use the Sandy Hook tragedy to take guns away. We are done if they take away our right to own guns. The founders of this country added the second amendment so we could protect ourselves from a tyrannical government. Every nation in history that has disarmed their citizens has become a tyrannical government and taken freedom away from their citizens. This is not a party problem this is an American problem. We will lose in the end if we keep fighting amongst ourselves.

      • Robert Bentham

        “The founders of this country added the second amendment so we could protect ourselves from a tyrannical government.”

        no… they did no such thing…

  • Cacimo

    The comment section illustrates how being a Democrat is more of a religion than a philosophy.

    • OC

      Your racism BLINDS you. You closed your eyes as BushCheny dismantled the Constitution – or you are happy for the hell and chaos because your loyalties are with another welfare-receiving frenemy — AND America was so extremely desperate they literally elected a BLACK Constitutional scholar to “fix” it.

  • captgwk

    Citizens United was staggering in its naivete. The Court confidently declared, “We now conclude that
    independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give
    rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” And for skeptics who
    thought otherwise, the Court provided this additional assurance: “The
    appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate
    to lose faith in our democracy.”

    Unfortunately, corporate personhood, an artificial legal construct to allow corporations some protection under the law, had become a much greater constitutional problem than presidential power … a problem that Prof. Turley overstates.

    See: http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/01/more-on-citizens-united-recommended-reading-policy-updat.html

  • rlibos

    Maybe we need a dictator…….Better a Democratic one than a Republican one!

  • T Marq

    What check and balances? The Congress is polarized, which is mostly controlled by special interest. The American citizens have their heads stuck up their butts and just fail to act against their Congress, who are the real culprits. The presidents is doing what he can to equalize the playground. This idiot thinks that just because one or two acts are seen as attacks on liberty, they represent the entire spectrum of changing ideal, which by the way, need serious Constitutional revamping. This country’s constitution is a political joke. It has been totally changed to help and service the geedy few and go against all our once precious liberties.

  • OC

    Very interesting. He didn’t speak to the pimps in Congress functioning as servants of Global Corporations that don’t pay a dime of taxes and which rob us of our businesses and expertise (Romney). – That is, when they aren’t engaged in outright looting of the country (Sen. Sander’s filibuster speech), and death profiting like Feinstein and her husband, or insider trading like Pelosi, not to mention the everyday, routine, expected, selling out by of our birthright by GOP legislators.
    ALL of Congress have handed over FAR too much authority to a tiny nation that receives billions in welfare, while we freeze and live without housing.
    The President has his Legacy; I don’t agree with a lot of it, but everything he has done has been unself-interested, for the good of the country. -In the interest of fairness toward unprotected classes of people.
    He had said repeatedly that the healthcare system we had was UNSUSTAINABLE. What I’ve always observed was that people were FAR better off medically if they claimed they suffered in Eastern Europe, or simply sneaked across the border with a fake name and nothing else. And our own children cannot “afford” to have a family. Then what’s the meaning of life?
    The professor said NOTHING about the supreme court singledly cementing this Fascist shift without even being asked by any American. Maybe they were bribed.

  • OC

    Sound an alarm at this late date and tell only a third of the story? Maybe this was only about future or current employment.

  • Doug

    I agree with him to a point. Obama is facing a situation that no other President has faced. The GOP has made it their goal to get rid of him at any cost. That’s their main priority. The problems we are facing take a back seat to the “get rid of Obama” agenda. As such they strike down, unilaterally, almost any proposal that comes out of the White House. They show no interest in sitting down and finding compromise, they simply want to show that he will not get anything past them, period. It makes no difference if the idea is good or bad, they simply want to stop him in any way possible. He’s left with not many choices in getting legislation through. Now many will tell you that the GOP is not really so set on destroying one single man, but how does one explain then that Obama has faced more filibusters in his first 5 years than all other Presidents COMBINED? Why is it that his opponents are shooting down everything he proposes but at the same time aren’t offering alternative proposals or even showing a willingness to sit down and work out compromises? We’re constantly hearing about what is wrong with Obama’s politics, much of it is true, but those same people complaining are lawmakers too. Why aren’t they then offering something else and pushing it through? If I’m going to tell you what is wrong with your idea, then I’ll also offer you an opinion on how to fix the problem. His opponents aren’t doing that. So how is one to get anything done, when everything he tries meets with strong opposition but no other proposals or even an offer of compromise?

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