Editor's Note: Bob Morrison coauthored this column.
Our esteemed Family Research Council (FRC) colleague, Dr. David Prentice has lectured around the world on the wonders of ethical stem cell research. Dr. Prentice has catalogued the more than 70 treatments that bring needed relief to more than 60,000 persons a year. The great thing about Adult Stem Cells is that they are most often taken from the patient’s own body, thus overcoming the problem of rejection by the patient’s immune system.
Dr. Prentice’s pioneering efforts got us thinking: Does the Body Politic also have mechanisms within our ancient Constitution designed to cure our partisan illnesses? Is it possible that the Founding Fathers anticipated the current seemingly intractable clash of political ambition and gave us a way out?
Speaker John Boehner has gone into federal court seeking a ruling that would compel the president of the United States to abide by his oath of office. The speaker has said that he “disagrees” with the calls of some advocating impeachment of the president. As long as he holds the speaker’s gavel, he can effectively take that option off the table.
President Obama is required by the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Every day, President Obama is violating his oath. So Speaker Boehner is asking the judiciary to act as referee in this contest.
It may be that there is yet another way to compel the president to do his duty. The Constitution gives the legislature “the power of the purse.” This means that if both branches of the legislature agree on a series of Appropriations Bills, they can provide money to keep the government functioning and still take away the money for such things as implementing the Obamacare individual mandate.
Won’t the president simply veto such bills? Won’t he claim that his opponents are “closing down the government?” That is exactly what happened in 1995, when Speaker Newt Gingrich boasted of having closed down the government. In truth, both the House and the Senate in those days provided the money to keep the government running. It was President Bill Clinton who vetoed those Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that would have kept the government functioning. Then, as was typical of him, Clinton pointed his finger at Capitol Hill and blamed his political opponents for shutting down the government.
The public opinion polls soon forced the legislative branch to give way. But as we look to 2015, there may be a way of using the Constitution’s own provisions to heal the partisan divisions and still take a stand for principle.