Front Page
NMJ Search
Editorials
Commentary
Archive
NMJ Radio
Constitutional Literacy
Islamofascism
Progressivism
Books
NMJ Shop
Links, Etc...
Facebook
Twitter
Site Information
About Us
Contact Us
  US Senate
  US House
  Anti-Google






Archive Email Author

About Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer writes a weekly political column The Washington Post that runs on Fridays. He is also a Fox News commentator, appearing nightly on Special Report with Bret Baier, and a panelist on Inside Washington. Krauthammer joined The Washington Post as a columnist in 1984, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1987 for “his witty and insightful columns on national issues.” Krauthammer began his journalism career at The New Republic, where he was a writer and editor and won the 1984 National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism. Before going into journalism, he was a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980, he helped direct planning in psychiatric research for the Carter Administration, and he practiced medicine for three years as a resident and then chief resident in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Krauthammer was born in New York City and grew up in Montreal, Quebec. He attended McGill University, Balliol College, Oxford and Harvard Medical School. http://tinyurl.com/3f7ulbq
Social Bookmarking
Print this page.
An Outbreak of Lawlessness
Charles Krauthammer
December 5, 2013
For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of constitutional norms.

Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non–Supreme Court) judicial nominations.

The problem is not the change itself. It's fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.

The violence to constitutional norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force -- a near party-line vote of 52-48. This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That's why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.

As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.

Barack Obama may be remembered for something similar. His violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking. It's not just making recess appointments when the Senate is in session. It's not just unilaterally imposing a law Congress had refused to pass -- the DREAM Act -- by brazenly suspending large sections of the immigration laws.

We've now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans.

Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law. Under Obamacare, no insurer may issue a policy after 2013 that does not meet the law's minimum coverage requirements. These plans were canceled because they do not.

The law remains unchanged. The regulations governing that law remain unchanged. Nothing is changed except for a president proposing to unilaterally change his own law from the White House pressroom.

That's banana-republic stuff -- except that there, the dictator proclaims from the presidential balcony.

Remember how for months Democrats denounced Republicans for daring to vote to defund or postpone Obamacare? Saboteurs! Terrorists! How dare you alter "the law of the land."

This was nonsense from the beginning. Every law is subject to revision and abolition if the people think it turned out to be a bad idea. Even constitutional amendments can be repealed -- and have been (see Prohibition).

After indignant denunciation of Republicans for trying to amend "the law of the land" constitutionally (i.e., in Congress assembled), Democrats turn utterly silent when the president lawlessly tries to do so by executive fiat.

Nor is this the first time. The president wakes up one day and decides to unilaterally suspend the employer mandate, a naked invasion of Congress's exclusive legislative prerogative enshrined in Article I. Not a word from the Democrats. Nor now regarding the blatant usurpation of trying to restore canceled policies that violate explicit Obamacare coverage requirements.

And worse. When Congress tried to make Obama's "fix" legal -- i.e., through legislation -- he opposed it. He even said he would veto it. Imagine: vetoing the very bill that would legally enact his own illegal fix.

At rallies, Obama routinely says he has important things to do, and he's not going to wait for Congress. Well, amending a statute after it's been duly enacted is something a president may not do without Congress. It's a gross violation of his Article II duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

A Senate with no rules. A president without boundaries. One day, when a few bottled-up judicial nominees and a malfunctioning health-care website are barely a memory, we will still be dealing with the toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.








The BasicsProject.org informational and educational pamphlet series is now available for Kindle and iPad. Click here to find out more...

The New Media Journal and BasicsProject.org are not funded by outside sources. We exist exclusively on tax deductible donations from our readers and contributors.
Please make a sustaining donation today.







Opinions expressed by contributing writers are expressly their own and may or may not represent the opinions of NewMediaJournal.us, its editorial staff, board or organization.  Reprint inquiries should be directed to the author of the article. Contact the editor for a link request to NewMediaJournal.us.  NewMediaJournal.us is not affiliated with any mainstream media organizations.  NewMediaJournal.us is not supported by any political organization.  Responsibility for the accuracy of cited content is expressly that of the contributing author. All original content offered by NewMediaJournal.us is copyrighted. NewMediaJournal.us supports BasicsProject.org and its goal: the liberation of the American voter from partisan politics and special interests in government through the primary-source, fact-based education of the American people.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance a more in-depth understanding of critical issues facing the world. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 USC Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The Media Journal.us © 1998-2014    Content Copyright © Individual authors
Powered by ExpressionEngine 1.70 and M3Server