Overriding Obama’s veto so victims can sue Saudi Arabia

Congress passed a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for enabling some of its citizens to carry out the attacks.  But President Obama vetoed the measure, saying that it would violate the principle that sovereign nations are immune from foreign lawsuits by private citizens and will open the United States to similar suits.

Yesterday, in a rare show of bipartisan unity, Congress overrode the veto.  That requires 2/3 of the vote, but this override was 97-1 in the Senate and 348 to 77 in the Senate, as Democrats voted against their own president.

That’s satisfying emotionally, but is it wise for Congress to interfere in foreign relations, traditionally the domain of the Executive Branch?  And is it wise to throw out sovereign immunity?  Won’t this jeopardize American military, intelligence, and diplomatic operatives, as well as claims from foreign citizens who don’t like us against the nation as a whole?  Or is it worth the risk to get back at Saudi Arabia? [Read more…]

Congress approves war with ISIL with little debate

Congress signed off on President Obama’s plan for an air war against the Islamic State, both in Iraq and in Syria.  The war authorization was attached to a budget bill, and it passed both the House and the Senate on a bi-partisan vote with virtually no debate.

The last two times we entered a war in Iraq, Congress held extensive hearings and debates.  But not this time. [Read more…]

Supremes reject Obama’s “recess” appointments

The Constitution’s balance of powers is re-asserting itself.  President Obama had been appointing officials that need Senate approval by doing so during holidays when Senators were out of town.  Since the Constitution allows for temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess (back when the Senate was a part time body with long periods between sessions), the President claimed these short holiday breaks constituted a “recess,” even though the Senate was still in session.

The Supreme Court has ruled–unanimously!–that these appointments  are illegal.  The Judicial branch is reining in the Executive Branch in its attempts to exert its power at the expense of the Legislative branch.  The Constitution still works. [Read more…]

When the president does it, it’s not illegal

Those who oppose Obamacare may well be glad that the President keeps delaying the implementation of parts of the law (namely, the employer mandate and the limits on out-of-pocket expenses).  But there is a deeper issue:  The law says that these measures are to go into effect in 2014.  But now the President says, “no they won’t.”  By what authority can the President just change a Constitutionally-enacted law?

George Will says that the President’s increasing habit of by-passing Congress, ignoring laws, and legislating by Executive fiat is an example of the flagrantly unconstitutional principle affirmed by Richard Nixon :  “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” [Read more…]

Green lawmaking by executive order

President Obama, being unable to get his environmental and anti-global warming agenda through Congress, has announced that he will impose it by executive order.  After all, the bureaucracies and regulatory agencies of the Executive branch have become the nation’s de facto lawmakers anyway.  So why do we need Congress when the president can rule by fiat? [Read more…]

Congress letting bureaucrats make the laws

Another practice in which Congress evades its constitutional responsibilities:  Passing laws that consist largely of vague frameworks and enabling bureaucrats from the executive branch to fill in the blanks with the substance of the law.  George Will on a bill that would put regulations back under Congressional scrutiny:

John Marini of the University of Nevada, Reno, writes in the Claremont Review of Books that the 2,500-page Obamacare legislation exemplifies current lawmaking, which serves principally to expand the administrative state’s unfettered discretion. Congress merely established the legal requirements necessary to create a vast executive-branch administrative apparatus to formulate rules governing health care’s 18 percent of the economy.

The Hudson Institute’s Chris DeMuth, in an essay for National Affairs quarterly, notes that Congress often contents itself with enacting “velleities” such as the wish in the 900-page Dodd-Frank financial reform act that “all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services . . . [that are] fair, transparent, and competitive.” How many legislators voting for the bill even read this language? And how many who did understood that they were authorizing federal rulemakers to micromanage overdraft fees? In Dodd-Frank, Obamacare and much else, the essential lawmaking is done off Capitol Hill by unaccountable bureaucratic rulemaking.

via A check on the regulatory state – The Washington Post.