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Voice of the people

Feb. 22, 2013 @ 07:06 AM

Obama’s plans hurt Constitution
In his State of the Union address to Congress, President Obama revealed his plan to “fundamentally transform America.” He intends to increase the size and power of the federal government; consolidate power in the executive branch by usurping the legislative power of Congress, and rule by executive orders.

Other presidents before him have sought and somewhat succeeded in eluding constitutional restraints by pretending they did not exist. But no president has ever so blatantly declared his intention to defy the constitutional separation of powers by expropriating to himself the legislative function. His threatened action, which he has, to an alarming extent, already initiated, will propel the nation to a constitutional crisis. The Constitution’s carefully crafted systems of checks and balances imposes upon the legislative and judicial branches a duty to resist such incursions into their respective domains, a duty they have heretofore tacitly breached. The president is betting that they have neither the courage nor the political will to resist in this instance. Sorry to say, he may be correct.

As originally drafted, the Constitution reserved to the states an additional check on federal power, but the 17th Amendment, which instituted popular election of the Senate, took that power from the states. The third estate, the “free” press, rather that challenging the president’s power grab, can be expected to laud the emperor’s new clothes. It remains for the people, the voting electorate, to restore the necessary balance of power. But the nation has become so divided along political, class and social lines, it is doubtful that any consensus is possible.

Some will applaud the president’s threatened action as courageous and even necessary. Others will see it as evidence of monarchical aspirations. I view it, if unchecked, as portending the end of constitutional self-government in America, a fundamental transformation indeed.

Lawrence L. Pauley
Huntington

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