Rise of the Superpresident -part 2
by ANDREW MIILLER
Bypassing the checks and balances imposed by America’s founders, the executive branch has come to new heights of power.
This so-called fourth branch of government now has a larger impact on American citizens than the other three branches combined.
The legislative branch no longer issues the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States. Instead, these “laws” are issued as “regulations” crafted by thousands of unelected, unreachable bureaucrats.
One study found that Congress only enacted 138 public laws in 2007, compared with 2,926 regulations enacted by federal bureaucrats working for the administrative state. A similar study found that federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, each year, compared with 939,000 cases tried by administrative “courts” tied to individual federal agencies in the executive branch.
These adjudicatory proceedings conducted by administrative agencies are often a mockery of due process, based on one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency over the accused.
In a telling speech given on Constitution Day in 2010, Harvard professor Michael Klarman condemned conservatives of “constitutional idolatry,” citing the rise of the administrative state as both unconstitutional and necessary for the good of the country. “The framers set up three branches of government—executive, legislative and judicial,” he said. “But today we have a vitally important fourth branch—the administrative state—which is almost certainly unconstitutional in multiple ways according to the original design of the framers. Yet courts have legitimized administrative agencies, and it’s hard to imagine them doing otherwise.”
While it is true that federal agencies in this so-called fourth branch of government have a great deal of autonomy, the people who run them are still appointed by the U.S. president. So this administrative state is really an outgrowth of the executive branch of government.
When Congress has tried to rein back the growth of this sprawling federal bureaucracy in the past, it has found itself blocked by claims of expanding executive privilege.
The rise of the administrative state didn’t begin with President Obama. This dangerous problem has been growing for over a century, since the Woodrow Wilson administration at least. Yet the Obama administration has used the powers of the executive bureaucracy to micromanage people’s lives to a level unprecedented in American history. The current administration has used the powers of the Internal Revenue Service to target the president’s enemies, mostly conservative and pro-Israel groups. It has used the powers of the Justice Department to seize the records of more than 20 Associated Press phone lines in what was called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” It has used the powers of the National Security Agency to conduct covert surveillance programs in violation of the Fourth Amendment, illegally keeping phone and Internet records of millions of Americans with the full cooperation of nine major Internet companies. The revelations just keep coming.
Four decades ago, U.S. President Richard Nixon was impeached on charges related to illegal wiretapping in the Watergate incident. Now, the Obama
administration can use its National Security Agency to illegally spy on the private conversations of U.S. lawmakers without any serious opposition whatsoever!
“A growing crisis in our constitution system threatens to fundamentally alter the balance of powers—and accountability—within our government,” wrote U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Professor Turley in a joint Washington Post editorial. “This crisis did not begin with Obama, but it has reached a constitutional tipping point during his presidency” (June 27, 2014).
There is an unparalleled spirit of lawlessness behind all of these scandals. Congress and the courts are being sidelined by an out-of-control executive branch that is ruling via executive action and a vast army of bureaucrats.
Nationalized Law Enforcement
As if this centralization of power in the hands of America’s chief executive weren’t enough, voices across the country are now clamoring for the Obama administration to nationalize local law enforcement.
Quite remarkably, the U.S. Constitution deliberately delegates law enforcement to the local level. Currently there are about 760,000 state and local police officers in America with power to make arrests. Combined with the 120,000 federal officers in this country, the police compose a force roughly two thirds as large as the U.S. military.
The Constitution’s intent is the reason for the approximately 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States. When law enforcement responsibilities are divided among 18,000 agencies accountable to directly elected local officials, it becomes extremely difficult for anyone to set himself or herself up as a tyrant. If a county sheriff abuses his or her office, it is much easier for the local community to elect a better sheriff than it is for that community to change the policies of unelected bureaucrats in Washington, d.c.
America’s founders were deeply wary of standing armies in peacetime. They could have given the federal government a well-armed federal police agency to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility—but they deliberately didn’t. Instead, they limited the power of the government, the federal government in particular. They wanted to reduce threats to individual liberty.
Above all else, the framers believed that government power should be decentralized so that no one person or branch of government could emerge as a force of tyranny. As James Madison said at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A standing military force, with an overgrown executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.”
Despite the reasoning of the founders, civil right leaders and Black Lives Matter activists are now calling for just such a standing army. After a white South Carolina police officer shot an unarmed black man last spring, racial activist Al Sharpton called for a nationalized police force. Never mind the fact that the officer was arrested and prosecuted at the local level. “There must be national policy and national law on policing,” Sharpton said. “We can’t go from state to state; we’ve got to have national law to protect people against these continued questions.”