Guest Column: Presidential Misuse of the Executive Order
Presidential Misuse of the Executive Order
by Dr. James Veltmeyer
With Senile Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar “Build Back Better” socialist green energy scheme facing an uncertain fate in the U.S. Senate, Biden is now threatening to pull a Barack Obama and enact this radical economy-destroying plan without congressional support. Remember Obama’s famous “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” declaration that he could bypass Congress anytime he wanted and essentially rule by decree? It seems as if Obama is still pulling the strings at the Biden-occupied White House.
What Obama was referring to at the time was his willingness to abuse the so-called presidential Executive Order ( EO ) to enact by fiat what he could not get through the Congress. Yet, Article I of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress…” The Constitution also clearly delineates three separate but equal branches of government and the powers assigned to each. There is no mention in that document of Executive Orders, Presidential Decision Directives ( PDDs ), presidential signing statements or any other method by which the Executive can defy the legislative powers of Congress and act, essentially, as a dictator.
Indeed, in Federalist #47, James Madison warned that “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
Executive Orders themselves were relatively uncommon in the early days of the republic. George Washington issued just eight and Thomas Jefferson a paltry four in his eight years in office. The original purpose of the Executive Order was really administrative in nature only, directives to government agencies and bureaus regarding the proper implementation of laws passed by Congress. That purpose has been completely overridden in our modern times, where Presidents use the EO to enact laws themselves. In 1952, at the height of the Korean War, President Truman tried to seize the nation’s privately-owned steel mills, only to have his Executive Order struck down by the Supreme Court. Justice Hugo Black in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer stated that an EO “must stem either from an Act of Congress or from the Constitution itself,” and said such an order is on dubious ground if it’s “incompatible with the express or implied will of Congress.”
Of course, Truman was just following in the footsteps of his “progressive” Democrat predecessors Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt who, together, issued a whopping 5,300 Executive Orders during their presidencies. It got so bad during FDR’s tenure that humorist Will Rogers said “Congress doesn’t make laws anymore, they just wave at the bills as they go by.”
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