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September 17, 2013

Thank President Obama for the Country's Newfound Interest in the Constitution


Today is Constitution Day, and thanks to President Barack Obama, more Americans than ever are returning to the document for inspiration as the foundation and guarantor of our rights and freedoms.

Unfortunately, the newfound interest is in part a result of the president’s constitutionally questionable actions. The list is long, but here are some of the most egregious examples:

  • Unilaterally deciding when the Senate is or is not in session for purposes of making recess appointments of unconfirmable candidates.
  •  Using the Commerce Clause to justify a federal mandate to have health coverage (the majority ruled against that argument; Chief Justice John Roberts strangely decided to call it a tax and therefore upheld the mandate).
  • Arbitrarily deciding which laws he will and will not enforce—as opposed to the Constitution’s, “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”—including issues concerning marriage, immigration and granting waivers from or postponing certain provisions of his health care law.
  • Supporting the National Security Agency’s snooping into Americans’ communications.
  • Threatening to take even more executive actions for the remainder of his tenure because he can’t convince Congress—including many Democrats—to support his left-wing agenda. 

The president’s actions have led to a popular revolt, as people increasingly want to know what the Constitution says and what it means. In 2009, the Government Printing Office noted that its pocket copies of the Constitution had become its most popular document.

And because Obama justifies his actions by claiming that Congress is keeping him from unilaterally doing what he wants—a telling rationalization, since that is exactly what the Constitution’s “checks and balances” are intended to do—the public has been looking for ways to unilaterally stop him. 

For example: 

  • There has been an explosion of interest in “federalism” and how states can push back against Obama’s effort to extend federal control over every area.
  • There has been a concerted effort to create interstate compacts, a constitutional provision that allows states to enter agreements and bypass federal law.
  • And, more recently, there has been a growing interest in an Article V convention of the states that would allow them to reinforce certain restrictions on the federal government that have been ignored by presidents or by the courts. 

President Obama, who likes to boast he taught constitutional law, is almost solely responsible for this renewed interest in the provisions and limits in the Constitution. Had he not done so much to trash the document, the American people would not have done so much to embrace it.


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