Apathy In the Face of Flagrant Executive Overreach


Courtesy of Pete Souza

President Obama takes action at the Resolute desk. Many times, he has claimed he can and will utilize his pen to exercise unconstitutional authority via the Executive Order.

Thomas Jefferson once asserted that “whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Contrary to popular belief, the opposite of “well-informed” is not “uninformed.” Rather, its polar opposite is “misinformed,” or possessing incorrect information.

President Obama gave a speech on November 20, 2014 regarding the actions he shall take on immigration. It was during this speech that he largely succeeded in misinforming the populous.

“[Until a bill is passed by Congress,] there are actions I have the legal authority to take as president–the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me–that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” said Obama.

The message I wish to convey here has nothing to do with immigration policy whatsoever. Whether you support amnesty in any form or you do not, that is not the issue at hand. The problem that ought to be prioritized is that the President of the United States possesses absolutely no power to create law.

Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

Congress possesses sole law-making power in the U.S.. Executive Orders, the apparatuses for Obama’s “actions,” are intended to be utilized for the purpose of enforcing or implementing already existing law. The president has openly declared his intentions, and rather than enforcing an existing statute, they run counter to current immigration standards by creating new citizenship and work authorization opportunities out of whole cloth. Obama’s Executive Order violates the previously stated section of the constitution.

Obama and his supporters claim that other presidents have acted in this manner before, citing the instance of amnesty granted under President Reagan. The fact of the matter is that no president has ever acted this unilaterally on immigration. In the instance of Reagan, it was not executive action taken, but rather an act passed by Congress and signed into law by Reagan in 1986, known as Simpson-Mazzoli. No overreaching authority was exercised.

These supporters also claim that the president’s action is justified solely because Congress has been dreadfully staggering through gridlock and thus has not been capable of taking action that is long overdue.

To this brand of individual, I would contend that a leader who is permitted to act on anything is a ruler who will act on everything. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If we continue to remain an apathetic citizenry in the face of the flagrant nullification of the separation of powers, we shall not be deserving of the blessings of liberty.

Thankfully, 17 States have recently joined in an effort to sue the president over this action, marking the dawn of a break in this long-running silence. Let us hope that this crisis does not come and go without effective force from the opposition.