Chuck McConnell: Constitution
February 7, 2010
The president of the United States delivered the constitutionally required State of the Union address last week, and in a mere 70 minutes, he clearly demonstrated his strategy to consolidate federal government power in the executive branch.
At first, I thought the Constitution must have changed materially since the last time I read it, but it had not. I downloaded the latest copy and re-read it three times, and it was the same as a few years ago. Our Constitution still specifically enumerates three separate and ostensible equal branches of government, each with their own powers: Congress, the Supreme Court and the executive branch. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution still reserves to the states powers not delegated to the Untied States by the Constitution.
For the first time in history, the president in his address to the nation and the world berated the Supreme Court for a recent ruling. It was as if he forgot the Court is a co-equal branch and not obedient to him. His attack even elicited a clear albeit rare reaction from one of the justices. The president then told the world he would circumvent their decision.
When the Senate failed to form the Commission on Debt the president had called for, he angrily threatened to go around them and enact his wishes through a presidential "executive order." In other words, Congress is not relevant and Obama will do what he wants with or without them.
And finally, the president reiterated his demand that Congress enact a comprehensive health care reform act. I could not find anywhere in the Constitution the power of the federal government to demand the American people purchase health insurance, or anything else for that matter. The 10th Amendment clearly leaves any such legislation to the states. Tennessee and Massachusetts have enacted health care legislation without Constitutional challenge, thereby codifying their right.
George Washington in his farewell address in 1796 warned that consolidation of power in one branch of government would lead to "a real despotism." We are seeing today what President Washington, more than 200 years ago, feared might happen.
The president has said in the past that the Constitution is a fluid document; his State of the Union address clearly demonstrates his belief. But the Constitution only is fluid through the process of amendment and absolutely not by mandate or edict from the executive branch. America's Constitution has been a solid foundation in establishing our nation as the strongest and freest in history. In 2010 elections, we must ensure presidential power is not allowed to increase by removing those members of Congress who substantiate executive power. We must elect true representatives of the people's wishes who will challenge this clear attack on our Constitution.