Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Imperial Executive

Even though it was published over a week ago, I've been hearing more and more about Charlie Savage's story in the Boston Globe about how President Bush has issued over 700 signing statements, many of which he uses to quietly explain that he will disregard the law he is just signing. For some, he claims reasons of protecting national security, for others it seems he simply would rather not obey the law. He does not veto a law he does not agree with, he simply ignores it.

Twice has the president signed laws mandating an inspector general to investigate allegations of torture and other abuses in Iraq, yet he declares in his signing statements that the inspector cannot investigate such matters. He has claimed ultimate authority dealing with how prisoners are held, claimed authority for illegal search and seizure, even refused to provide congress information on basic government scientific research.

To justify these egregious actions, the president points to his "inherent authority" as commander-in-chief and head of the executive branch. The "Unitary Executive" theory holds that because the Constitution grants the president the authority for executing the laws, he has unlimited authority to decide what those laws should be and when to break them.

For their constitutional justification, they point the following clauses in Article II, Sections 2 and 3:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States,

he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed
Forget the fact that Congress is the sovereign body in the United States. I don't know what crack these lawyers who push this theory were smoking during their con law class, but they seemed to have missed reading the rest of the Constitution, in particular Article I, Section 8. In this section it grants Congress the power to:

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;


To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;


To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Further more, Article IV, Section 3

The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States;

It's tough to be any more clear than that. I honestly just cannot comprehend how anyone who truthfully took an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" can look themselves in the mirror. Even worse are those who excuse such authoritarian power grabs. This is how totalitarianism sprouts. That is what is so terrifying about them; not that a totalitarian army might march in and conquer a free country, but that a free country would willingly give itself over to those who disdain democracy, ignore the rule of law, and idolize secrecy.


Post a Comment

<< Home