Diana West

Another witness was Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute. Emphasizing the non-partisan urgency in the need to address presidential overreach, Cannon noted he was not a Republican and that he in fact supported Obama's social policies regarding women, minorities and homosexuals. Cannon outlined numerous unilateral actions President Obama has taken to retool the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) -- in effect, making law, which is not within a president's powers. According to Cannon, it is no longer accurate to say the Affordable Care Act, as passed by Congress, is still the law of the land.

Cannon's testimony continued: "Today, with respect to health care, the law of the land is whatever one man says it is -- or whatever this divided Congress will let that one man get away with saying. What this one man says may flatly contradict federal statute. It may suddenly confer benefits on favored groups, or tax disfavored groups without representation. It may undermine the careful and costly planning done by millions of individuals and businesses. It may change from day to day." And then: "This method of lawmaking has more in common with monarchy than democracy or a constitutional republic."

"More in common with a monarchy"? I don't think I've ever heard such dire testimony. Will it get Congress's attention? It got mine. What about the American people? Will they be alarmed by what Turley describes as a "shift of power within our tripartite government toward a more imperial presidential model"? Will they let their representatives know they better start checking and balancing presidential powers that these same representatives have permitted to run amok?

This takes us to another problem, one I'm not certain the Founders provided an answer for: a Fourth Estate (the press) in the tank for the current chief executive. In other words, will the American people even hear much about this constitutional case against Barack Obama? So far, most media have yawned. Or, in the case of Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, misreported the hearing as a meeting of impeachment-obsessed Republicans. (At his blog, Turley went so far as to correct Milbank, writing that impeachment "actually came up little in the hearing which was 99 percent focused on the separation of powers and the rise of an uber-presidency under Bush and Obama.")

Impeachment and even elections, that natural correction mechanism, aside: "There is one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places on the government," Michael Cannon said in the most dramatic remarks of the session. "Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it. That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate," he continued. "If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws, then they will conclude that neither are they."

And then what happens?


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).