Sunday, March 26, 2006

Are we a democracy or what?

In a democracy, the elected representatives pass laws which are then carried out by the government under the leadership of an elected official. In the conception of the Founders, the elected official charged with enforcing the laws would be the President, and the laws applied to everyone from the most elevated to the most lowly.

This was a radical change from the system that prevailed in the mother country, viz., a monarchy in which the laws are made and executed by a King who derives his authority from Divine Right. If it sounds like I am saying stuff that any 6th-grader should know and understand, it is because I am.

And yet, when Congress makes laws, here's what seems to be happening: The President signs it and then immediately tells Congress that he has no intention whatsoever of actually obeying the law. The message is contained in a so-called "signing statement," but pretty much it was the same as the message delivered by Dick Cheney when he met Senator Patrick Leahy in the United States Senate.

If you don't believe me you can read it yourself:
President's Statement on H.R. 199, the "USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005"

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3199, the "USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005," and then S. 2271, the "USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006." The bills will help us continue to fight terrorism effectively and to combat the use of the illegal drug methamphetamine that is ruining too many lives.

The executive branch shall construe the provisions of H.R. 3199 that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch, such as sections 106A and 119, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties.

The executive branch shall construe section 756(e)(2) of H.R. 3199, which calls for an executive branch official to submit to the Congress recommendations for legislative action, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to recommend for the consideration of the Congress such measures as he judges necessary and expedient.

(I first called attention to Bush's signing statements on January 4, 2006 in relation to the McCain anti-torture ammendment in Bush to Congress: "Drop Dead!")

There's a war going on. One thing we can all agree on is that our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen deserve our support, respect and gratitude. It is in part because we realize that they have made the decision that they will put themselves in harm's way and endure separation from their loved ones to defend our freedoms, and the principles upon which our country is founded. One of those principles is that no man is above the law, an expression that originally was employed to explain the doctrine of separation of powers.

Our Armed Services members are brave because they choose to undertake the risks that defending democracy demands. In contrast, the members of the Senate, especially the Democrats, are too timid to stand up to tyranny even in the symbolic passing of a censure resolution.

This does not bode well for democracy.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

1 comment:

Dick said...

This is from the Wikipedia encyclopedia concerning the Unitary Executive Doctrine.

"The theory

The theory relies on the Vesting Clause of Article II which states "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Proponents of the unitary executive use this language along with the Take Care Clause ("[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed...") to argue that the Constitution creates a "hierarchical, unified executive department under the direct control of the President."[1]

The theory argues that the power of Congress to divest the President of control of the executive branch is limited.

Proponents of the theory argue that the President possesses all of the executive power and therefore he can control subordinate officers and agencies of the executive branch. This implies that the power of Congress to remove executive agencies or officers from Presidential control is limited. Thus, under the unitary executive theory, independent agencies and counsels are unconstitutional to the extent that they exercise discretionary executive power, not controlled by the President.[2]

The judicial branch implications are that no part of the executive branch can sue another part because "the executive cannot sue himself." If the federal courts were to adjudicate disputes between executive agencies, it would violate the doctrine of separation of powers.

The theory has been associated with conservative legal thought and members of the Federalist Society, and originally came to prominence in regard to the independent counsel law (see Morrison v. Olson)".

What really scares me is the response to his claiming to be the law of the land. The Democrats can only get 2 votes on a simple censure vote. The ACLU may win a fight in the courts, but what if Dubya proclaims The Unitary Executive Doctrine supreme. God help us.