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November 15, 2016

The Left's Newfound Support for Constitutional Checks and Balances


Remember when the political Left decried President Obama and his administration’s efforts to bypass constitutionally imposed checks and balances on executive power?  We don’t either. For the past eight years the Left has had nothing but contempt for the separation of powers. 

But it seems many of them have dusted off their copies of the U.S. Constitution and found that there are three branches of the federal government, and that each of them plays an important role in moving or stopping a president’s agenda—and, in this case, eliminating a past president’s agenda. 

When the issue of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance mandate came before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Left argued that any decision that would undermine or kill the legislation would be “judicial activism.”   

Don’t expect the Left to be worried about judicial activism if and when Trump-passed legislation comes before the Court.  

Obama also decided he could determine when the Senate was not in session, so that he could make recess appointments he couldn’t get “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Plus Obama entered into several treaties that constitutionally required a two-thirds vote of the Senate for approval, which he couldn’t get. So he just agreed to them anyway. 

You can expect Senate Democrats under Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to zealously guard the prerogatives of the Senate. 

And then there was the Democrats’ efforts to hand enormous powers to agency heads—e.g., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services, and especially the Environmental Protection Agency—with little or no checks on their powers. 

But look for Democrats to demand that Congress play a strong oversight role over any of Trump’s appointees and their agencies. 

At IPI, we believe in the Constitution during both Republican and Democratic administrations. We criticized Obama’s unconstitutional executive overreach and we will do the same if it appears President Trump overreaches his constitutional authority.  

That’s because presidents come and go, but the Constitution remains. As citizens our first allegiance is to the Constitution, and to the president only in so far as he abides by it.


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