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Saturday, November 22, 2014

GOP, Can You Handle the Truth About Executive Actions?

"You want answers? You want answers? You can't handle the truth! .... 

"You don't want the truth because deep down in places 
you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, 
you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. 
We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline." 

Remember that quote from Colonel Jessep in the film A Few Good Men? Perhaps Republicans should consider these words before they spit venomous accusations of unconstitutionality against President Obama and his recent executive action concerning immigration reform.

Punchline, indeed, GOP. No, an executive order is not "the very definition of tyranny." That's the truth if you can handle it.

Jaime Fuller of The Washington Post points out ...

"In 1992, liberal activists crossed their fingers that President Clinton would be elected, bringing an end to what they saw as the executive actions-filled years of the Reagan and Bush administrations. 

"Gary Bass, director of the watchdog group OMB Watch, told the Washington Post at the time that Reagan 'grabbed every lever 
that the executive power could give to exert control 
and shift power from Congress to the executive.'"

(Jaime Fuller. "Executive actions: An increasingly common way for Congress to hate presidents." The Washington Post. November 17, 2014)

Fuller continues, "Every president since George Washington has interpreted the Constitution to allow executive orders, seeing in the phrase, 'shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed' (Article II) a whole world of political possibilities. And then, he issues an executive order, or a memo, or some other directive steering policy closer toward where the White House hoped Congress would take it on their own."

The truth? All modern presidents make policy choices about which violations of federal law to prosecute. Obama’s decision to defer deportation is in line with actions of past presidents, and well within the scope of his authority.

Distinguished professor, author, and political science chair Robert Spitzer reveals ...

"George Washington issued eight such orders. In fact, every president except William Henry Harrison (who held office for only a month before dying in 1841) has issued them. Based on the numbering system established in 1906, presidents have issued roughly 14,000 - yet the actual number is far larger, since before that time records of the orders were often not kept.

(Robert J. Spitzer. "Obama's Executive Orders: Can We Talk?" 
The Huffington Post. November 18, 2014)

Republican presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush systematically exempted large numbers of illegal immigrants from deportation, including some 1.5 million people in the case of Bush. In fact, in October 2008, Slate magazine made a list of the "nine most odious executive orders issued by George W. Bush that the next administration should overturn."

Concerning Immigration

Hard-core Constitutional Originalists should know that in the original understanding of the Constitution, Congress did not have a general power to restrict immigration (though it did have power over naturalization).

Granted, immigration restrictions have been deemed permissible under precedent dating back to 1889; however, Originalists applaud presidential discretion to cut back on enforcement of laws that themselves go against the original meaning of the Constitution concerning immigration.

Robert Spitzer speaks of the enormous discretion over immigration decisions granted by Congress to presidents and agencies over the decades. He believes that Obama stands on firm footing to prioritize prosecutorial discretion and that he also possesses ample precedent to protect selected groups from deportation and the statutory authority to grant work permits.

The Bottom Line

If all is considered concerning President Obama's executive action, it is most likely the only logical decision in light of the inaction of a gridlocked Congress to address immigration reform. His decision to act is timely and legal.

The real question for all Americans is this:

"Do illegal immigrants violating the law to escape Third World conditions deserve compassion?" 

Please read this question again, and pay close attention to the qualifying remedy: "deserve compassion."

The United States Congress evidently doesn't have the time or the inclination to answer this burning question. We all know why. I will spell it out: P-A-R-T-I-S-A-N-S-H-I-P.

President Obama took discretion to "take Care" under Article II of the United States Constitution. Then, the President made a decision that these immigrants deserve a measure of compassion from the Executive Branch. 

To satisfy proper procedure, Obama's decision must be based on prior legislative or constitutional authority. I believe it is. Let's review another executive ruling of the past. Wasn't it a needed reform?  I defer to Professor Spitzer ...

"When Harry Truman ordered the racial integration of America's military forces in 1948 (anticipating by six years the Supreme Court's ruling that "separate but equal" in public schools was unconstitutional), it was the first important step in eliminating segregation."

So, Speaker of the House John Boehner, remember your words. You said, "Every member of Congress swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So did President Barack Obama."

Are your speaking of the Original Constitution and its immigration stance?

And, Boehner continued, "Over the last five years, starting -- not coincidentally -- when his political party lost the majority in the House of Representatives, the President has consistently overstepped his authority under the Constitution, and in so doing eroded the power of the legislative branch."

Are you condemning only what your party deems to judge as "overstepping"?

"The House will in fact act," Boehner told reporters.

And, what (as if I didn't already know) will the House "action" be, Speaker Boehner?

Boehner replied: "With this action, the President has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek."

Thank God the truth is finally spoken. We can all expect more partisan gamesmanship, and we can quote Speaker Boehner for the honest declaration that reeks of uncooperative public service.

Compassionate people don't matter to political parties; only party members matter to these  organizations because each party member represents a blind vote for keeping power in office and jobs in hand. And, the country is still looking for "a few good men" to come together and accomplish the greatest dreams of those who dare to dream.

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