A federal appeals court has sided with Congress on whether it or President Barack Obama can decide whether it is legally in session. | Karen BLEIER ~AFP/Getty Images
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:38PM
A federal appeals court has struck a blow for limited government and constitutional principle at a time when the White House, the U.S. Senate and Republican politicians are engaged in exercises of over-reach in conflict with the founding principles of our democratic republic.
The legal ruling declaring President Barack Obama’s abuse of the recess appointment process unconstitutional came Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It reasonably ruled that Congress, not the president, determines when the legislative branch is in session.
Obama had unilaterally declared the Senate was not in session last year to install three members on the National Labor Relations Board. Presidents have long used recess appointments to put in office nominees blocked by the Senate. But in this case, the Senate didn’t even get a chance to hold a hearing on the NLRB nominations, and it was in pro forma session when Obama acted.
No doubt this case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s hard to imagine that the high court wouldn’t confirm the clear logic of appeals court Chief Judge David B. Sentelle: “An interpretation of ‘the recess’ that permits the president to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advise-and-consent requirement, giving the president free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction.”
Also working their way through the federal court system are dozens of lawsuits challenging another case of Obama administration contempt for the Constitution. That’s the ObamaCare order that religious hospitals, charities and schools fund contraceptive, sterilization and abortifacient treatments in conflict with church teachings. The White House takes a stunted view of religion — that churches lose their First Amendment rights when they try to fulfill their faith mission by providing charitable aid, education or medical service to anyone other than church members.
Joining Obama in undermining the First Amendment are Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who intend to use their power on the Intelligence Committee to investigate the accuracy of a movie! They object to what some see as director Kathryn Bigelow’s movie “Zero Dark Thirty” suggesting that harsh interrogation methods produced intelligence helping find Osama bin Laden. Screenwriter and co-producer Mark Boal told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think that crosses a line that hasn’t been crossed, really, since the ’40s, when you talk about government investigating movies.”
Not to be outdone in abusing our democratic principles, some Republicans are advocating a change in the presidential voting rules that now award all of a state’s Electoral College votes (except in two states) to whoever gets the most votes in each state. They would like to apportion most of the votes by the results in individual congressional districts.
In such a system, Republican Mitt Romney would have defeated Obama last November even though Obama got 5 million more votes in the popular balloting. Only politicians who have given up hope of attracting a national majority to their principles could advocate such nonsense.
Obama takes scissors to parts of the Constitution he doesn’t like, senators assume the bipartisan role of movie censor, clueless Republicans advocate a limited electorate rather than limited government — all this brings to mind Benjamin Franklin’s sage words that America has “a republic, if you can keep it.”