President Obama may claim that his executive actions to change laws passed by Congress are mere tweaks and technicalities, but in reality he is usurping legislative powers belonging to Congress every time he changes so much as a comma, let along makes substantive changes.
The very first sentence in Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution states that “all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” which means of course that zero legislative powers are vested in the presidency, despite whatever claims or rationale Obama may provide to the contrary.
In letter dated December 26, 11 state attorneys general defend the separation of powers built into the U.S. Constitution and explain that Obama is acting illegally every time he changes provisions of his hallmark healthcare debacle — ObamaCare.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sent a letter on Thursday [December 26] to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius questioning the constitutionality of the president’s latest executive action that allowed insurance companies to continue offering plans that had been cancelled. The letter, signed by attorneys general from Republican-dominated states including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, called the rule change “flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.”
“We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action,” the letter said. “The illegal actions by this administration must stop.”
Regardless of the White House’s rhetoric, it is simple to understanding that any alterations to a law creates, in fact, a new law. Any new law must be passed, as the AGs rightly point out, by Congress as prescribed by the Constitution.
In their letter, the 11 attorneys general make the case that the separation of powers that the president is violating is one of the core concepts of freedom from tyranny undergirding our Constitution.
James Madison warned of such a situation — when one body would unconstitutionally consolidate all authority — in The Federalist, No. 46. “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,” Madison wrote.
While the action of the attorneys general is praiseworthy, as is their understanding of the need to keep each branch of the federal government within the boundaries of its powers as drawn by the Constitution, writing letters to Kathleen Sebelius is unlikely to keep President Obama from “tweaking” the healthcare law and acting as the autocrat that he believes he has the right and power to be.
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Photo of President Obama: AP Images