The United States is at "a constitutional tipping point" and "in the midst of a constitutional crisis." Has President Barack Obama unilaterally overturned the constitutional framework of three branches that is the basis of our unique and successful system of self-government?
That question is not just partisan bickering by Republicans and tea party activists. It was spoken in all seriousness in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee by a distinguished constitutional law professor who voted for Obama.
Jonathan Turley of George Washington University said that the "massive gravitational shift of authority to the executive branch" is unconstitutional and threatens the stability of our separation of powers and checks and balances. We can point to a few moves in that direction under previous presidents, but the current shift of power is proceeding at "an alarming rate," while (and just as ominous) the other branches (Congress and the courts) are "mute and passive" in the face of Obama's unprecedented expansion of executive branch power.
Our separation of powers was designed to serve as the primary protection of individual rights because it is supposed to prevent the concentration of power in any one branch. Turley warned that Obama has become "the very danger that separation of powers was designed to avoid," and we should not "take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years."
Our Constitution gives the power to declare war exclusively to Congress, but Obama thinks he can make a "unilateral commitment of our country to war." Turley explained that Obama "funded an entire military campaign (in Libya) by shifting billions in money and equipment without asking Congress for a dollar." He just transferred the money from another account, boasting that he "alone would define what is a war."
Obama is eager to get federal mitts on school curriculum so the screws can be tightened on what kids learn and (just as important) what they do not learn. The previous law to attempt to control education, No Child Left Behind, didn't fit into his plan, so he just nullified it by a series of unilateral waivers and is now welcoming nationalization of curriculum by Common Core.
When Obama, in his State of the Union address, announced he would take unilateral action "with or without Congress," Turley expected "an outcry" from his congressional audience, but that didn't happen. Where was Joe "You Lie" Wilson when we needed him to call out "you are unconstitutional"?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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