“Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.”
–Clinton presidential aide Paul Begala, July 1998
“All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
–Article 1, U.S. Constitution, 1789
Executive Orders are a presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty. Congressional approval is not necessary for an Executive Order to go into effect. Until recently, they were primarily used to direct the internal operations of federal agencies as well as being related to everyday administrative duties. They are the way a President assigns special days for particular actions, such as the National Day of Prayer. One Executive Order can be used to revoke the Executive Orders of other Presidents, or one of the currant president’s EOs. Now, they are primarily used to enforce legislative policies and programs. Some EOs are hidden from public view as they are related to United States security issues.
A TOUCH OF HISTORY
George Washington issued the first Executive Orders in 1789 using the Constitution as his authority to do so: Article II, Section 1 and Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution. Some people point to Article II, Section 2 also, though this section deals mainly with the President as Commander in Chief.
In 1788, James Madison, in Federalist 47 argued that Montesquieu’s warning, “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body of magistrates”-did not apply to our Constitution because “the magistrate in whom the whole executive power resides cannot of himself make a law…”
In 1792 Thomas Jefferson, in conversation with George Washington, said “…if the equilibrium of the three great bodies, Legislative, Executive and Judiciary, could be preserved, if the Legislature could be kept independent, I should never fear the result of such a government; but that I could not but be uneasy when I saw that the Executive had swallowed up the Legislative Branch.”
Every President of the United States of America has used Executive Orders. In 1907, Executive Orders were given official numbers by the State Department. These were retroactively numbered from 1862 when Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and issued the Emancipation Proclamation by EO. Many EOs were lost and therefore, are not available. There are over 13,000 Executive Orders recorded and they are listed at several sites online.
EXECUTIVE ORDERS TODAY
We live in a post-constitutional age wherein the Federal Government has a rule for every area of our lives. Gardens, helmets, seat belts, food handling, all these are under the microscope of one federal agency or another and the list goes on and on.
The present occupant of the White House continues to dump on the American people regulations and laws which have not originated in, and therefore, have not been approved by Congress. To date, he has written 91 Executive Orders.
I don’t know if this is an excessive number or not. Many Executive Orders were written by FDR during his 16 year “dictatorship” and it would be unfair to compare numbers of EOs with other Presidents as situations and national, as well as foreign concerns, change.
Some of Obama’s EOs are innocuous or helpful and others are draconian. For instance, the EO “Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging While Driving” is directed to all Federal Agency employees to stop a dangerous habit.
Another of his EOs, “Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells,” revokes the EO of George W. Bush which limited Federal funding of stem cell Research. It also revoked another EO of G.W. Bush which expanded approved stem cell research in an ethically responsible way. By removing this guideline for researchers, Obama may have unleashed usage of stem cells in dangerous as well as medically unethical methods. This may not affect us directly, but it does affect how researchers may discover medical procedures. The question this EO raises is, “What are the medical ethics that will be used?” Will Peter Singer’s ethics of death be used or will more life oriented ethics be applied to research? Obama sides with Singer and other bioethicists in agreeing that children born of botched abortions should be left to die. He even blocked passage of an Illinois bill to protect these children and give them treatment. When he left the Illinois Senate, the bill finally passed.
At this time, there is rumor of an Executive Order to be penned which will limit gun sales on the American/Mexican border. I cannot find a recent EO that addresses this subject; however, it has been reported at The Blaze.com and at The Daily Beast.com. that an EO is forthcoming. This comes after the discovery of our Justice Department and BATF being involved in a gun smuggling ring from Arizona to the drug lords of Mexico. Senator Daniel Issa thinks this is a political move to deflect attention from Operation Fast and Furious which is clearly unlawful. Attorney General Mr. Holder has written a memo to ATF ordering them to “interdict all weapons and pursue straw-buyers.” (A straw-buyer is one who purchases something for another person who wishes to remain anonymous.) Some believe that the attempted assassination of Gabby Gifford spurred this EO as well as reaction to the news of Fast and Furious being investigated. It is a chink in the already vulnerable 2nd Amendment, and is part of the statist agenda of firearm confiscation.
There is an EO concerning NASA’s new directive. But it’s not listed in the Official White House Site of Executive Orders. It was written on April 15, 2010. We know that their new directive is aimed at helping Islamic nations with their efforts at space travel as well as assisting NOAA with garnering proof of Global Warming. There are to be no more Shuttle Missions; we will buy space for our astronauts on Russian vehicles going to the Space Station at an astronomical cost to the taxpayers of our country. The elimination of NASA from space exploration is tantamount to cutting off scientific discoveries which filter down to the common man for use: case in point, Velcro. It also removes the United States from any efforts to set up bases on the moon which could be used to observe the changing panorama of the universe as well as to watch activities on the earth which could endanger our national security. Recently, he announced that he wanted NASA to put together an initiative for a manned landing on Mars.
“While committed to terminating the Bush administration’s Constellation moon program, the president supports development of a scaled-down version of Constellation’s Orion crew capsule for use as a space station emergency escape vehicle and possible technology test bed. Speaking on background, a senior administration official said Tuesday the Orion capsule could be launched unmanned to the International Space Station using commercial rockets as part of a broad effort to reduce reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The official said the use of a scaled-down version of Orion, along with the development of new private-sector rockets and capsules to replace the shuttle, would end NASA’s reliance on Russia for space transportation services sooner than would have been possible with the Constellation program’s Ares rockets. While no timetable for such flights will be specified, a decision on what sort of heavy lift rocket architecture to pursue will be made in 2015, based in part on advanced technologies research that will be funded at more than $3 billion over the next five years. ” - April 10, 2010, five days before the NASA EO was written. source: CBS News Tech
Along with these provisions for the Mars mission, NASA will have to share its technological information with Muslim countries. Right now, Iran has a nuclear weapon and silos in Venezuela. This doesn’t make me feel safe since those silos have missiles that are pointed at the United States. The EO doesn’t provide for sharing information with Iran, but what’s to stop the countries that are getting the briefings from sharing it with Iran?
Mr. Obama wants to push the Dream Act, which makes all the illegals in this country citizens, by virtue of the Executive Order. Of course, he wants them to vote for the Democratic Party.
What else do EOs mean to us? As evidenced by Lincoln’s declaration of Martial Law and the suspension of Habeas Corpus, the same thing could be done by Obama if there is a National Emergency, which of course, he would declare. Many political and legal writers as well as political pundits have expressed the opinion that EOs could be used to set up a dictatorship.
Is Obama a power hungry man, or will he go quietly into the night when his Presidency is over? Only the 2012 election stands between the United States as a Constitutional Republic and a progression into a Socialistic European style country.
Which way will the nation choose to go?