Happy Independence Day! Read The Declaration of Independence with your family and friends!

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Click Here to Hear Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Actress Janine Turner read the Declaration of Independence!

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

From the National Archives website: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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Happy Independence Day! Read The Declaration of Independence with your family and friends!

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Click Here to Hear Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Actress Janine Turner read the Declaration of Independence!

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

From the National Archives website: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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Long and Little Known: How Incoherent Statutes Harm Liberty & the Rule of Law

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“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men

 of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so

 incoherent that they cannot be understood . . . .”

                                    —James Madison, Federalist 62

 

In support of the federal Constitution, James Madison explained that “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”1 Mr. Madison understood law “to be a rule of action,” and asked, “but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”2   Today, more than two centuries later, Mr. Madison’s warning has proven both prescient and forgotten.  With federal bills and statutes droning on for hundreds and thousands of inscrutable pages of legal jargon, federal legislation has grown so voluminous Read more

House Litigation Seeks To Defend The Constitution – Guest Essayist: The Honorable John Boehner, 53rd Speaker Of The U.S. House Of Representatives

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On September 17, Americans will observe the 228th anniversary of the adoption and signing of the U.S. Constitution by the Constitutional Convention.  I commend Janine Turner, Cathy Gillespie and everyone associated with Constituting America for their efforts to defend our Constitution and educate people about its foundational significance.  Also, I am humbled to accept their gracious invitation to participate as an essayist in this year’s 90 Day Study on executive overreach.

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The “Living” Constitution – Guest Essayist: Will Morrisey

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Contributors to this series of articles have shown that executive branch of the United States government, cheered on by Congress and the Supreme Court and abetted by what has become a fourth branch of government—the federal bureaucracy or administrative state—has for some time almost routinely overridden the separation of powers the Framers designed for the protection of American rights.  In The Federalist, Publius had argued that the Constitution itself amounts to a bill of rights, preventing the usurpation of powers by the executive by giving the legislative and judicial branches powerful incentives to resist such encroachment.

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Untried Weapons — Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 7) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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Previous essays in this series explored why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrated how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively limiting federal overreach. The most recent essay highlighted current efforts to amend the Constitution through an Article V convention. The series now concludes with another largely untried weapon in the citizen’s arsenal today; issue-based legislative accountability.

A Deaf Congress

In 2014, researchers at Princeton University released the results of an exhaustive study that analyzed more than twenty years of federal policy. The study evaluated various actors and the effect that they had on public policy. After examining literally thousands of laws and how those laws came to be made, they were forced to admit that ‘the number of American voters for or against an idea has literally no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.’ Specifically, they concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that the level of political sincerity possessed by the average American today is miniscule, near zero, statistically insignificant.

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 7) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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In our constitutional republic, the Congress of the United States is the legitimate legislative branch of government, charged with making the laws. A decision to adopt any national global warming program is an enormous one, with hundreds of billions of dollars and personal liberties at stake. This is simply not something that ought to be done through the back door via an unelected, unaccountable agency.

As with all executive power grabs, the EPA ultimately can only do what Congress allows. Voters must constantly remind their elected representatives that they expect them not only to oppose bad laws but to step in and stop the executive branch when it oversteps its bounds.

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Untried Weapons — Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 6) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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Previous essays in this series explored why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrated how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively limiting federal overreach. This series now concludes by highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints today; issue-based legislative accountability, and the calling of a convention of states to amend the United States Constitution.

A Convention for Our Time

When we survey the Constitution today, it is increasingly difficult to picture it as the splendid banner raised by Washington and his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Nor does it today call to mind the iron chains described by Thomas Jefferson when he spoke of binding men down from mischief “by the chains of the Constitution.” Instead, the Constitution hangs frayed and tattered today, a silent witness to more than two centuries of flying above our nation’s capital. Its form has changed very little since 1787, but much of the life has gone out of it. Some today have begun to ask if it isn’t time for another convention—and in no state is this idea greeted with greater enthusiasm than here in Alaska. Holding a convention would open the door to a whole series of amendments, which could add new thread to a tattered banner, and in so doing breathe new life into the Constitution. Even so, when the idea of a second convention first began to gain traction in 1788, James Madison argued that the timing of any future conventions should be chosen only with great care. Whether the timing is right for another convention is an important question, and one to which any serious student of the Constitution should give careful consideration.

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 6) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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In America, as our founders intended, the states are where the rubber meets the road.

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It’s Time To Let Native Americans Practice Their Faith – Guest Essayist: Kristina Arriaga

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In “Federalist 51,” James Madison wrote, “In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.” He went on to explain that for religious rights to be secure, pluralism is needed. Religious rights, he explained, “consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects…” Put simply, greater religious diversity equals greater religious liberty.

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 5) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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VIEW FROM COPENHAGEN

The full scope of what Obama, Browner,  and the EPA intend to do without any congressional authorization was on display at the United Nations climate conference I attended in Copenhagen in December 2009.

At a side event hosted by Greenpeace called “Yes, he can! How Obama can deliver stronger emissions reductions,” the Center for Biological Diversity presented a paper titled : “Yes, He Can: President Obama’s Power to Make an International Climate Commitment Without Waiting for Congress.”45 The center laid out a frightening blueprint for precisely how the president could negotiate and enforce an agreement with just a simple majority of Congress instead of the 67 Senate votes our founding fathers required for treaty ratification, or, if he so chooses, he can instead bypass Congress and the Constitution entirely and simply rely on EPA action under the Clean Air Act for enforcement. If the administration is allowed to get away with this reprehensible tactic, it would set an ominous precedent for international promises and bypassing Congress to enforce them in other policy areas.

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 4) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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THE CZAR BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Driving the implementation of the EPA’s massive power grabs and circumvention of the legislative branch was a key White House official who avoided Senate confirmation by being installed as White House Energy Czar: Carol Browner.

The potential Senate confirmation fight Obama sidestepped by creating a czar position for Browner would have likely centered on her membership on the board of the Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society.24 Browner was listed as one of 14 members of the commission on its website as recently as January S , 2009-the day she was named Obama’s White House energy czar.25 This commission pursues an openly socialist agenda of centralized control under a regime of global governance that would enforce extreme environmental political correctness globally. The commission’s views on global warming are, to say the least, extreme. Commission statements from the time Browner served include:

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 3) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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THE TRAIN WRECK: THE EPA’S MANY WAYS TO ‘SKIN THE CAT’

Two weeks after the 2010 election and Obama’s “skin the cat” comment, a leading D.C.-based, left-wing advocacy group, the Center for American Progress,  published a 53-page report called The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change, detailing a sweeping far-left agenda that flies directly in the face of what voters made clear they wanted. 16 The report was coauthored by the president of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta, who was the chairman of Obama’s transition team, and who has direct influence over the president and his key advisers.

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Death, Taxes & Bureaucratic Overreach: The EPA’s Relentless, Unconstitutional War On Coal – Guest Essayist: Congressman Morgan Griffith

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Using a phrase attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “…In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”  I would submit that in modern times, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and bureaucratic overreach.

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Untried Weapons – Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 5) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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This essay continues a series exploring briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrates how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively responding to federal overreach. The series will conclude by highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints; issue-based legislative accountability, and a convention of states to amend the US Constitution.

The Constitution in the 21st Century

The two hundred and forty years of our independence as a nation are replete with examples of times that our constitutional forms were temporarily set aside, and sometimes by our nation’s most revered statesmen. The claim of public necessity was used sparingly at first, but it is now made by presidents with an alarming frequency, and in recent years simply on the grounds that Congress has been slow to act. While the nation was once strict in drawing distinctions between matters of truly dire emergencies and matters of mere presidential impatience, it is claimed by some today that the American people have adopted a much more permissive posture and no longer have need of a Constitution whose primary role is simply to serve as an impediment to progress and “the political will of the people”. The nature of the Constitution as a political document is now readily admitted. What is now more likely to be questioned is whether it is—and should remain—a legal document as well. As Washington forewarned us, we have now reached that point where change by usurpation has become the custom of the land.[1]

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Untried Weapons – Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 4) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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This essay continues a series exploring briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrates how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively responding to federal overreach. The series will conclude by highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints; issue-based legislative accountability, and a convention of states to amend the US Constitution.

The Constitution and the Permissive Public

In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton made the rather unremarkable observation that “…nations pay little regard to rules and maxims calculated in their very nature to run counter to the necessities of society.”[1] For an example, he drew from antiquity the case of Sparta’s highly decorated admiral, Lysander, in the Peloponnesian War. Term limits in Sparta required that Lysander resign as admiral at the end of his one year term of office and that no person could hold the office of admiral a second time. Yet when Sparta suffered a naval defeat, Lysander was soon called upon to lead the Spartan Navy once more in battle. Hamilton noted “how unequal parchment provisions are to a struggle with public necessity.” To paraphrase; it isn’t a fair fight. When constitutional limitations are paired against public necessity in the boxing ring, it’s like trying to take on an opponent whose weight class is three classes higher than yours. Sure, you may get a few punches in. You may even secure a few concessions from your opponent in the process. But in the end, constitutional limitations will inevitably succumb to perceptions of public necessity.

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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REWRITING THE CLEAN AIR ACT OF 1970: A BACK DOOR TO SOARING ENERGY PRICES

Just to show you how unfazed  the Obama administration was by the political defeat of cap-and-trade, consider what’s on page 146 of Obama’s 2012 budget: ‘The administration continues to support greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 .”10 Those just happen to be the same levels required by the failed Waxman­ Markey cap-and-trade bill . Obama is telling the EPA to just pretend the bill passed and regulate away. In fact, Obama’.s EPA was already moving full-steam ahead to implement a global warming regulatory scheme that could be even more costly than cap-and-trade-without the approval of the American people and without so much as a vote in Congress. On December 7, 2009-right in the middle of the media firestorm over the Climategate scan­dal, which leaked e-mails from leading global warming alarmists that called some of the basic science into question-the EPA issued a so­ called “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases, paving the way for onerous greenhouse gas regulations to be shoehorned into the 1970 Clean Air Act, despite the fact that Congress had considered­ and decisively rejected-adding such regulations in 1990, when the Clean Air Act was amended .11 It is such an ill-fitting vehicle to ad­ dress greenhouse gases that in order for this strategy to succeed, the EPA must, illegally, rewrite the law to suit its purposes.

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Small Businesses Threatened With $36,500 IRS Fines For Helping Employees With Health Costs – Guest Essayist: Grace-Marie Turner

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Small businesses that reimburse employees for the cost of premiums for individual health insurance policies or pay their health costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year per employee under a new Internal Revenue Service regulation that takes effect July 1, 2015 (article originally published June 30, 2015).

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Untried Weapons – Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 3) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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This essay continues a series exploring briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at restraining federal officials today, and illustrates how members of the present generation must come to view their relationship to the Constitution if it is to be of service in effectively responding to federal overreach. The series will conclude by highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints; issue-based legislative accountability, and a convention of states to amend the US Constitution.

Continuous Physical Reconnaissance

One of the lessons drilled into cadets at West Point, until it begins to find its way into their dreams at night, is the absolutely vital requirement to observe friendly obstacles on the battlefield. Army doctrine on this is as straightforward as it is inflexible: “Continuous physical reconnaissance of protective obstacles is extremely critical. Units must keep protective obstacles under continuous observation at all times” (Army Field Manual 90-7).

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The Heat Is On: Global Warming And The EPA (Part 1) – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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For decades, environmental extremists have been stymied when their doomsaying predictions collide with the reality of an ever-improving environment, driven by the enormous wealth created by our market economy. The “problem” they describe is always something different, but the “solution” is always the same: draconian restrictions on economic activity, vastly expanded government power (usually internationally), and greatly diminished individual freedom.

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Untried Weapons – Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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This essay continues a series exploring briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at constraining federal officials today, and highlighting two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints, both of which claim support from the Constitution and America’s Founding Fathers.

The Constitution in Tatters

As a document setting effective limits on the power of the federal government, the Constitution today lies tattered and worn, each article a testament to a battle lost and a fortification overrun (or bypassed) on the way to the consolidation of power in Washington. Some beginning students of the Constitution today are perplexed and genuinely wonder how it could be that a document that reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” can today have nearly the same effect as if the Framers had instead decided “the powers not delegated to the States by the Constitution will be reserved to the federal government.” Beginning students are particularly prone to reason that if it is simply written in the Constitution, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it must be so, and that’s all there is to it.

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Untried Weapons – Repairing The Tattered Remains Of A Constitution That Has Not Been Tried And Found Wanting, But That Has Been Found Difficult; And Left Untried (Part 1)* – Guest Essayist: David Eastman

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This essay is the first in a series inspired by federal overreach in Alaska. The series explores briefly why the Constitution is ineffective at constraining federal officials today, and evaluates two largely untried and fundamentally different approaches to restoring constitutional constraints; issue based legislative accountability and a convention of states to amend the United States Constitution, both of which claim support from the Constitution and America’s Founding Fathers.

At the outset of the Constitutional Convention, George Washington rose and declared to each of his fellow delegates “If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”[1]

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Saxton v. FHFA – Have FHFA And The Treasury Exceeded Their Limited Authority Under HERA? – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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Earlier this month, a new front was opened in the legal campaign by investors against the federal government’s (mis)management of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In the latest salvo, Saxton v. Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), individual investors from Iowa filed suit to stop the government from syphoning private property into the U.S. Treasury’s coffers. This most recent litigation effort seeks to reign in the federal government as it subverts the rule of law.

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Immigration Reform And Executive Orders: Imperfect Together – Guest Essayist: Will Morrisey

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Properly used, executive orders form an indispensable part of any government, including our own. If Congress passes a law and the president signs it, the president undertakes a Constitutional obligation to execute the law.  In so doing, he is likely to need to tell his administrators what to do and, at least to some extent, how and when to do it. Thus the president is constitutionally obligated to enforce immigration law and is fully entitled to issue executive orders in the course of fulfilling that obligation.

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What’s In a Name? The Controversy over the Washington Redskins – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the progressives created numerous agencies in the executive branch of government that were supposed to bring more rationality, efficiency, and order to American society.  They were to be run by scientific experts who would oversee a civil service bureaucracy that would govern objectivity as they made decisions free of politics and partisanship.

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Another ACA Treasury Regulation That Lacks Statutory Authority – Guest Essayist: Grace-Marie Turner

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New research about implementation of the Affordable Care Act finds that Obama administration regulations are allowing taxpayer subsidized health insurance for some people earning less than the statutory income floor and also for unlawful immigrants.

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Treasury Department Overreach? – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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The Treasury is not simply executing its task of printing money for legal tender and updating its design to thwart counterfeiters.  It is pursuing an ideological agenda outside of its authority. 

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‘Forced Sale’ Of Drugs Could Endanger Patient Safety – Guest Essayist: Grace-Marie Turner

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Any “forced sale” of products would also be constitutionally questionable as an unprecedented intrusion into the marketplace because the government would be compelling a commercial transaction that does not involve a willing seller and a willing buyer.  The innovator company could even face liability if patients were harmed by a drug provided to them by a generics company to whom it was forced to sell.

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Examining The Use Of Administrative Actions In The Implementation Of The Affordable Care Act – Guest Essayist: Grace-Marie Turner

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Companies inside and outside the health sector have spent countless billions of dollars trying to comply with the ACA. When the administration makes what some call “minor temporary course corrections,” it causes a new cascade of disruption and expenses for companies and makes it even harder for them to comply not only with the law but with ever-changing regulations. We have a process by which laws are to be enacted and changed, and that process has not been followed in implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as I have described here. I thank the committee for holding this hearing today to shed light on this issue. If our constitutional system of government is to survive, it must be based upon the rule of law.

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The Supreme Court: Paving The Way For Executive Branch Overreach – Guest Essayist: Elliot Engstrom

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Last week, the United States Supreme Court once again opted not to rule a key provision of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The case at issue, King v. Burwell, was technically not a challenge to the Affordable Care Act itself but rather the IRS’s implementation of the Act.

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Judicial Activism Rescues Obamacare – Guest Essayist: Nancy Salvato

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The Supreme Court has been in the news this week and Justice John Roberts has been thrust into the spotlight because he authored the majority opinion in King v. Burwell.  In it, Roberts and the Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare. This is no ordinary decision, though.  The court’s ruling doesn’t simply interpret the law, it rewrites the law.

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Save The Sawbuck – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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Executive overreach can come in many forms. In this essay, we explore an executive department’s surprising announcement and its symbolic ramifications. 

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What Would George Washington Say About The U.S. Now? – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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The below was originally published in FoxNews.com Opinion July 4, 2013

We have strayed from the path our Founders forged 237 years ago. Under the Constitutional Republic they created after the Revolutionary War, the United States has prospered over the centuries beyond the founding generation’s wildest dreams; however, we are wandering further from those very Constitutional principles that enabled us to thrive.

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Real Possibility Of A Federal Takeover Of Elections: The Role Of The U.S. Department Of Justice Aiding And Abetting Progressive Organizations To Weaken States’ Voting Laws – Guest Essayist: Catherine Engelbrecht

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Executive Overreach in American Elections

Perhaps one of my favorite cultural artifacts from the 1990s was those Magic Eye prints you could find in gift shops just about anywhere. They might look like a random assortment of colorful dots – but with a trained eye, images would practically spring forth from the frame. Sometimes executive overreach will seem as covert as a bull in a china shop. But in other cases – particularly when it comes to elections – misdeeds literally appear before you after the noise and distractions have been filtered out. The Obama Administration’s recipe of courtroom intimidation, activist collusion and bald-faced disdain for state powers to administer elections has laid the foundation for an eventual federalization of every citizen’s most basic form of raw power.

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Dear Mr. President – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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This Constituting America study focuses on executive overreach and presidents’ potential violation of our Constitution’s separation of powers. On the other end of the spectrum, executive inaction can likewise threaten American principles. This essay focuses on President Obama’s failure to stand up for one particularly cherished American principle: freedom of speech.   The threats posed both by executive overreach and omission are quite deserving of our scrutiny if we want to prevent further drift from the principles and government processes that have historically enabled the United States to thrive.

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Who’s To Blame For Presidential Overreach? We Are – Guest Essayist: Byron Schlomach

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Much has been made in recent years about the abuse of presidential power. There is no shortage of recent examples to show that this is a legitimate concern. However, this is not entirely the fault of the current administration. Instead, the fault lies with the American people and the other branches of government that have failed to exercise constitutional checks and balances.

Interpretations of the Affordable Care Act have been regularly put forward that result in far more flexibility regarding implementation dates than the actual plain language of the law would allow. It has been shown that the Affordable Care Act was intentionally written so that only individuals buying health insurance through state-created exchanges would receive federal subsidies. Yet, the administration is ignoring the law, flowing subsidies through the federal exchange.

A more recent example of executive overreach is the new rule expanding authority of the Environmental Protection Agency over the waters of the United States to include almost any land where water puddles for significant time. The argument put forth by the EPA is that 117 million Americans are not protected by the Clean Water Act under current interpretations. But then, the Clean Water Act was never intended to encompass all waters in the country. It was aimed at cleaning up the big rivers and the Great Lakes, the navigable waters of the nation, to make it possible for fish to live in Lake Erie and to prevent chemicals in rivers from catching fire.

Today, some have an entirely new vision for what the EPA. They want it to save the world from man-caused global warming, which is still unproven. They want it to exercise power so as to prevent any chance of harm coming to anyone from any activity by mankind, especially petroleum production. Other than a few isolated situations and scary speculative stories, the new rule put forth by the EPA expanding its power is a solution in search of a problem. Major water pollution disasters are not happening in this country, and every state already regulates water purity and threats to it.

It would be easy to lay all the blame for executive overreach in the United States at the feet of the current administration, but this would be naïve. The blame equally belongs to the legislative and judicial branches. More fundamentally, the blame lies collectively with the people of the United States.

Since the Progressive Era, a presumption has prevailed in the collective mind of Americans that political and social salvation lies in the strong leader, or cadre of leaders, whose wisdom and breadth of knowledge, along with a supporting cast of experts, would best improve the lives of everyone. This attitude cuts across party lines and was reflected best in the administrations of both Roosevelts, Wilson’s presidency, and even the presidency of Herbert Hoover. It is now so commonplace that there is little use in differentiating presidencies since FDR except to say that President Reagan, who made some attempt to roll back the practical effects of the philosophy, was the exception.

With the idea that the central federal government actually manages the nation and has the power to create prosperity by doing anything more than smoothing the way for a market economy to prevail, Americans give license to government overreach. Congress, anxious to scratch the people’s collectivist itch, enables the executive by granting broad powers to interpret and implement vague laws that empower bureaucratic experts to do their will. The Supreme Court, heavily influenced by prevailing progressive philosophies, has allowed Congress to broadly delegate its legislative powers to the executive. The result is an executive branch that has become an example of nearly unchecked power.

Due to our form of government, we are not at risk of a rapid slide into totalitarianism like that of the German people in the 1930s, but we certainly seem to be getting close. A few more fallen checks and balances wherein a president is allowed to ignore the law with impunity could very well encourage a charismatic future president with dictatorial tendencies to ignore even more fundamental constitutional provisions, like the two-term limit. The current situation whereby individual members of congress determine whether a president is acting legally purely on the basis of partisanship, and the fact that a significant number of Americans apparently feel the same way, is good reason to quake for the future of the United States constitution.

Byron Schlomach earned his PhD in economics from Texas A&M University and has worked in the state public policy arena for over 20 years. He previously served as Chief Economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Goldwater Institute. Byron is now Director of State Policy at the 1889 Institute and Scholar in Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Free Enterprise Institute.

Click Here to Read More Essays From This Year’s 90 Day Study!

Common Core: All Too Common Overreach – Guest Essayist: Cynthia Dunbar

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The three branches of the United States government are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The U. S. Constitution lays out the power and authority of each of these separate branches. It is important to note that the powers given to each branch are unique and separate and do not overlap or invade the authority of the other two.

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Fear Of An Overly Powerful Executive? As American As Apple Pie – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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Americans abhor politicians who gather up inordinate powers. At least, that used to be the case. From our Revolution forward, Americans remained wary of any officeholder who tried to maneuver around constitutional limits. This was especially true if the trespasser happened to be a president.

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 6) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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During the Watergate scandal, the press went into a veritable feeding frenzy when the Nixon White House reported that slightly more than eighteen minutes of tape recordings of a key conversation between President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, were erased. The Nixon White House claimed it was an accident. This erasure contributed immeasurably to the perception that the president was corrupt and helped bring down a presidency that only two years earlier had won reelection in a historic landslide. (Ironically enough, one of the articles of impeachment 51 against Richard Nixon cited his attempts to use the IRS against his political enemies, attempts that were insignificant compared to the vast scope of actual IRS wrongdoing during the Obama administration.) Fast-forward to 2014, with the IRS facing allegations of wrong- doing that absolutely dwarfed in scale and scope any of the allegations against the Nixon administration, and it “lost” far, far more evidence than a mere eighteen-minute conversation.

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 5) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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Imagine you approach a Hollywood executive with the following script idea: A powerful federal agency goes rogue. It targets political opponents with extraordinary investigations, targets opponents for audits, tries to throw opponents in jail, targets politicians who try to investigate its wrongdoing, and even attempts to monitor the prayers of the faithful. Then, just when investigators close in on the wrongdoers, they suddenly disclose that they’ve “lost” all the relevant evidence. The movie would never be made. Why not? Because it’s too cartoonish, too absurd to be believable. But in the modern IRS, truth is truly stranger than fiction.

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Why Are TPA And TPP Being Referred To As Obamatrade? – Guest Essayist: Nancy Salvato

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In an article by Connor Wolf called This Is The Difference Between TPP And TPA (Hint: They Are Not The Same Thing), he explains that these two bills are linked together because Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a means to fast track passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  I am confused by this line of reasoning because as a stand-alone bill, TPA is intended to provide transparency to all trade negotiations by soliciting public and congressional input throughout the process, however, TPP as a stand -alone bill, is behemoth and most of the information to which the public has access has been leaked.  Furthermore, it was negotiated behind closed doors.  According to the verbiage of TPA, if TPP is not negotiated using TPA guidelines, the fast track option is negated. So why do news outlets and a wide range of legislators portray these two bills disingenuously? Bundling the TPA and TPP as one idea called Obamatrade is no different than bundling immigration reform and border security, which are two separate issues.  One is about drug cartels and terrorism and the other is about how we manage people who want to immigrate to the United States.

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Stopping The Usurpation Of Advice And Consent – Guest Essayist: Scot Faulkner

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June 28, 2014 is an historic day in thwarting Presidential over-reach. On that day the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled President Obama’s recess appointments unconstitutional. NLRB versus Noel Canning, ET AL was a rare instance when the Judicial Branch acted as referee and reset the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative Branches.

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When Waters Aren’t Waters At All: Executive Branch Over-Reaching And Federal Land Use Controls (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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Waters, Regulation, And Political “Sleight Of Hand”

At its most-basic level, sleight-of-hand is the art of performed misdirection.  A magician gets an audience to focus their attention on something shiny he is holding in one hand, distracting you from the trick he is attempting behind his back.  If successful, the audience is fooled into thinking that something magical has happened, completely unaware of what tricks the illusionist has engineered to accomplish his feat.  Woe be unto the illusionist who can’t complete his feat without exposing the artifices used to achieve it, or, worse, who public fails at their misdirection.

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When Waters Aren’t Waters At All: Executive Branch Over-Reaching And Federal Land Use Controls (Part 1) – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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How We Got Here

There is a truism when it comes to the power of the federal executive branch: over time, the power of that branch grows.

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How The Federalists Viewed Human Nature And Its Impact on The Resulting Government System In The United States of America (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Amy Rofail

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The balance to solve the problems inherent in past democracies are addressed in the Federalist Papers. One topic that takes precedent is the idea of popular sovereignty and its dangers that can result in the tyranny of the majority. Whereas most Founders would agree that man is rational and capable of solving problems through reason, and that the will of the majority may be correct, this will is quite fallible. The recognition of this aspect of human nature lays the foundation upon which the Constitutionalists will devise the mechanisms and safeguards within government to allow for popular sovereignty to rule, but tyranny of the majority to fail.

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How The Federalists Viewed Human Nature And Its Impact on The Resulting Government System In The United States of America (Part 1) – Guest Essayist: Amy Rofail

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The founding fathers, particularly the writers of the Federalist Papers, were well versed in the classics, Greek literature, historical records of successes and failures of governments, and the political theorists of their era. The Founders’ views of human nature are the basis upon which they created a democratic republic such as they did in America. This paper will examine elements of the how the Founders’ viewed human nature, and how that view influenced the resulting mechanisms placed within the Constitutional government of the United States. This examination will focus on James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers Numbers 6, 10, and 51, and other writings of Madison. In addition, the theories and writings of the era that influenced both Madison and other founding members of the federal government will be reviewed.

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 4) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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The IRS seems to be replacing “tax collection” with “oppression and censorship” as a key part of its agency mission statement.

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Immigration Reform By Pen? – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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The cliché that America is a “nation of immigrants” is true as successive waves of immigrants throughout its history came to this country for its freedoms and opportunity.  The Statue of Liberty symbolically welcomes immigrants to America.  Over the past 150 years, American immigration policy has alternated between restriction and liberalization.  But, whatever vacillating nature of immigration laws, the unifying core was that constitutionalism generally guided the process of laws regarding immigration.

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 3) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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In late May 2013, we’d seen enough. We filed a lawsuit, the largest in ACLJ history.21 Ultimately including forty-one conservative and pro-life organizations in twenty-two states, it represented a comprehensive attack on the IRS targeting scheme and laid out in detail the consequences of the IRS’s misconduct. The ACLJ filed its case with the following understanding:

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An Underhanded Usurpation Of Popular Sovereignty – Guest Essayist: Nancy Salvato

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Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thomas Jefferson Declaration of Independence

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Department Of Education Power Grab: The “Opt Out” Debate – Guest Essayist: Elliot Engstrom

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In communities across America, parents and students are increasingly opting out of onerous standardized tests being pushed by the Department of Education. These assessments, which are directly related to both Common Core and No Child Left Behind, often put young children in high-pressure testing situations for hours on end. In fact, the length of some of these tests is comparable to state bar examinations for aspiring attorneys. And to boot, educational experts are increasingly finding that these tests have little, if any, educational value for children.  The context behind this nationwide opt out movement, and the Department of Education’s response, is a prime example of Executive overreach at work in a very intimate part of American family life.

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 2) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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“Let’s translate: when evaluating progressive organizations, the IRS singled out only seven groups for additional scrutiny, asked an average of only 4.7 additional questions, and approved every single group.

By contrast, the IRS singled out 104 conservative groups, asked an average of 14.9 additional questions (some with multiple subparts), and ultimately approved fewer than half,”  Jay Sekulow. 

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Undemocratic: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom (Part 1) – Guest Essayist: Jay Sekulow

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By early 2010, two developments were shaking American liberals to their core. The first was the rise of the Tea Party; the second was a Supreme Court case that protected the right of free political speech. Read more

Executive Overreach And Its Effect On The Constitution’s Structural Safeguards Of Liberty – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath

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A t-shirt I saw recently embodies the ultimate justification for parental authority, “I’m the Dad, That’s Why.” Of course, substituting “Mom” works, as well. President Obama’s claims of executive authority to act when Congress fails to enact his vision about immigration matters, Obamacare, or the environment, similarly appears to be, “I’m the President, that’s why.” As a t-shirt slogan, it works; as constitutional doctrine, not so much.

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Implementing The Affordable Care Act: The Executive Branch’s Liberties With Statutory Language – Guest Essayist: Grace-Marie Turner

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The Obama administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars implementing the Affordable Care Act, often taking vast liberties with statutory language.  The administration’s actions were the subject of a House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL).

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The Constitutional Tools Of Foreign Relations – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath

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When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, much was made in the press of the perception that this event reflected voters’ fatigue with foreign entanglements and a turning inward to domestic issues. While there is truth to that, events are not controlled by voters’ sentiments and have a way of upsetting comfortable delusions. It might be said, with apology to Leon Trotsky, “You may not be interested in international conflict, but international conflict is interested in you.” Thus, by 2012, Russia rising, Iraq fracturing, Syria boiling, China blustering once again placed foreign relations on the political radar. Still, Mitt Romney’s warnings about, for example, Russia as the preeminent geopolitical threat, fell on insufficient numbers of listening voters’ ears, and Barack Obama was re-elected.

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Presidential Power And The “Nuclear Deal” With Iran – Guest Essayist: Joerg Knipprath

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One of the most controversial recent presidential actions is the Obama administration’s desire to enter a “nuclear deal” with Iran. To prod Iran into an agreement that he appears desperately to want, President Obama intends to waive sanctions imposed under earlier legislation and executive action. As shown by an open letter to the Iranian government authored by Senator Tom Cotton and signed by 47 Republican senators, a hotly-debated aspect of the deal is which role, if any, Congress would play in this spectacle.

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A Memorial Day Message by Constituting America Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner

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Constituting America first published this message from Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner over Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, the inaugural year of our organization.  We are pleased to share it with you again, as we celebrate our 5th birthday!  On this Memorial Day weekend, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country. Read more

Common Core: Federal Overreach Into A State Issue – Guest Essayist: Hadley Heath Manning

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The words “education,” “schools,” and “curriculum” do not appear in the U.S. Constitution or any Amendments.  This is not to say the Founders were not supportive of public education. Many of them, most notably Thomas Jefferson, wrote in support of the concept because they believed that, “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

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What Government By “The Consent Of The Governed” Looks Like – Guest Essayist: Brion McClanahan

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The only way for the United States to wrestle the reins of power from the general government is a renaissance of State powers as codified by the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.  Only then will we have true government by the “consent of the governed.” 

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The Executive Branch’s Growing Disrespect For Administrative Due Process – Guest Essayist: Lawrence J. Spiwak

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Given the pervasiveness of regulation over the American economy, ensuring procedural due process for all Americans wishing to participate in both adjudications and rulemakings before administrative agencies is no easy task.  Indeed, unlike Congress—which is a political institution specifically designed by the Founding Fathers to promulgate laws based on the will of the people—an administrative agency, as a creature of Congress, is specifically designed to be apolitical so that it can implement the will of Congress by following its particular governing statute (e.g., the Federal Communications Commission and Communications Act; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Federal Power Act).  For this reason, we have the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires, among other things, administrative agencies to provide interested parties with a meaningful (and orderly) opportunity for notice and comment regarding agency decisionmaking, and to disclose any private meetings with outside parties which may have a material impact on this decisionmaking (what are known as “ex parte” rules).  By establishing such procedural safeguards, an administrative agency can (ideally) make dispassionate decisions based on the law, economics and the facts before it, rather than succumb to outside political pressure.

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Stop Using The IRS As A Bludgeon – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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American citizens should never fear their own government. It’s Un-American. The Declaration of Independence directed our Founders to organize government powers “in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” We should be able to go to bed at night feeling safe from hostile pounding on the door. The concept of the home as a safe refuge has been a key principle of Western Civilization going all the way back to the Roman Republic.

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The Regulatory State: Beyond The Founder’s Vision – Guest Essayist: Peter Roff

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Among the things we have to thank the French for is the invention of the bureaucracy, which more than one dictionary defines as a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives.

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Guess How Many Changes President Obama Has Unilaterally Made To The Affordable Care Act? A Running List! – Guest Essayists: Tyler Hartsfield And Grace-Marie Turner

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By our count at the Galen Institute, more than 49 significant changes already have been made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: at least 30 that President Obama has made unilaterally, 17 that Congress has passed and the president has signed, and 2 by the Supreme Court.

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Operation Choke Point: Agencies Getting Around The Constitution’s Protections – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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“The Constitution protects us from our own best intentions. It divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely, so that we might resist the temptation to concentrate power in one branch as the expedient solution to the crisis of the day.”

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The Inevitability of Executive Overreach – Guest Essayist: Kyle Scott

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George Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality, Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, invasion of the South, and suspension of habeas corpus, Harry S. Truman’s railroad seizures, and the growth of militarism domestically and internationally by George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama are all examples of executive overreach; examples of when the President used powers not given to him by the Constitution or exercised by his predecessor. Executive overreach is neither unique to the American system nor new to our time.  Efforts to limit executive control, whether it be an elected president, entrenched oligarchy, or hereditary monarchy, have defined Western political thought and reform since Magna Carta was signed by King John of England in 1215 at Runnymede. The greatest and most enduring thinkers—John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau—that influenced the political revolutions of the 18th Century and still define the contours of our current political paradigm were concerned with restraining executive authority through the dispersion of political authority. In 1776 the U.S. declared itself independent and proceeded to rid itself of an executive and parliament that had usurped their authority. But no sooner did America win its independence did it seek to reconcentrate power into a centralized governing structure by ridding itself of the Articles of Confederation and ratifying the U.S. Constitution. The responsibility of an enlightened and engaged citizenry is to thwart all efforts of overreach.

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The Most Effectual Weapon Against Executive Overreach: The Power Of The Purse – Guest Essayist: Senator Mike Lee

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In addition to the power to enact important reforms like the REINS Act and the USA Freedom Act, Congress has another time-honored power to exercise when it needs to stop an overreaching executive. It is a power wielded far too infrequently in recent years. And it is a power that James Madison described in Federalist 58 as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

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America On The Brink Of Losing Constitutional Form Of Government Forever – Guest Essayist: Phil Kerpen

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The rule of law is in grave danger, as federal regulators use ever thinner legal pretexts to enable vast public policy changes without votes by our elected representatives.  In a span of just seven days, (essay originally published on March 5, 2015) the FCC declared the Internet a public utility, Congress acceded to DHS implementing executive amnesty, the president used a veto threat to protect the NLRB’s ambush elections rule, and the Supreme Court’s four liberals showed they are not just willing but enthusiastic to allow the IRS to ignore the plain language of Obamacare.  A great week for regulators, but a terrible week for everyone else.

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What Happens When The Executive Branch Tries To Make Law: The Evolution Of The Contraceptive Mandate And The “Accommodations” That Failed To Respect Protected Conscience Rights – Guest Essayist: Steven H. Aden

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One Saturday morning a month, I take my eight-year-old son and my seven-year-old daughter to the neighborhood big-box hardware store for “Kid’s Craft Day.” They get an apron to wear and an assemble-it-yourself kit with instructions for building a flower pot rack or a wooden photo frame. For an hour, they get to pound nails, glue joints, and slap paint on a project that has no risks or liability attached to it. And while they’ll hopefully have the pride that comes from a solid job at the end, as every mom and dad there knows, this time together isn’t really about the finished product, but about learning the process of carefully following directions.

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Congress’ Communication Breakdown – Guest Essayist: Scot Faulkner

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The world where House and Senate Chambers are packed with Members attentively listening to their colleagues ended long before films like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Advise and Consent” paid it homage.

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King V. Burwell: Finding A Path Forward After An Executive Overreach – Guest Essayist: Grace Marie Turner

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The Supreme Court justices had a lively discussion yesterday (essay originally published March 5, 2015) during arguments in King v. Burwell about who Congress intended to get health insurance subsidies and under what conditions. Read more

What James Madison Teaches Us About NSA Surveillance – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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A federal district judge ruled on Monday (essay originally published December 18, 2013) that the National Security Agency program tracking all Americans’ phone calls is “probably unconstitutional.” In Klayman v. Obama, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that “such a program infringes on ‘the degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

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President Obama’s Drone Policy Could Benefit From General Washington’s Wisdom – Guest Essayist: Logan Beirne

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Are drones coming home to roost? Last week (essay originally published May 30, 2013), President Obama announced his administration’s counterterrorism policy. The question is, will this policy defend our liberties — or destroy them?

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How Can Words On Parchment Constrain Executive Overreach? Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”  The Declaration of Independence used these words to legitimize our founding as a nation. Fifteen simple words, but they embodied a world-shattering idea. Kings supposedly derived their authority from God, but the Declaration declared that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These subversive words flipped the divine right of kings on its head. Instead of kings, God endowed all of mankind with natural rights. Read more

Congress Shall Make No Law – Encroaching On The First Amendment – Guest Essayist: Peter Roff

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On the subject of free speech the founders could not have been clearer. When they wrote that “Congress shall make no law” inhibiting its exercise or that of freedom of the press they were quite specific.

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Do You Know How Many Wars Congress Has Formally Declared War In? HINT: It’s Fewer Than You Think – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams

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On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and killed 2,500 American servicemen.  Japan’s ally, Germany, followed up the attack by declaring war on the United States.  Just after noon on the following day President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the shocked members of Congress and told them that the sneak attack was a “date which will live in infamy.”  The Congress declared war on Japan by an 82-0 vote in the Senate and nearly unanimous vote of 388-1 in the House.  When Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States, Congress responded in kind on December 10.  World War II became the last war in which the United States declared war against a foe.

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Power To The Regulators! – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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The Founders believed that consolidating executive, legislative, and judicial powers would threaten liberty, so to avoid this tragedy, they built our constitutional framework with checks and balances. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 47 that “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

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How Did Executive Overreach Come About? How Was It Excused? Woodrow Wilson’s Role…. – Guest Essayist: Professor Will Morrisey

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In late January 1904 the president of Princeton University stepped to the podium of The Outlook Club in Montclair, New Jersey. Today, university presidents get into the news when some scandal erupts, but at the beginning of the last century they often enjoyed the status of what we now call “public intellectuals”—frequently quoted in the newspapers on the issues of the day, looked to for solutions to economic and social problems. Nicholas Murray Butler at Columbia, Charles William Elliot at Harvard, and Arthur Twining Hadley at Yale were well-respected national figures. The Outlook Club was exactly the platform for such a person; possibly named after The Outlook, a prominent magazine featuring literary and political commentary associated with the several “reform” movements of the day, the Club afforded its speakers an audience of university-educated civic leaders who used their influence to promote “good government”—by which they first intended government free of corruption and of the party “bosses” associated with it, but which would soon coalesce into something still more ambitious: Progressivism.

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From President Bush’s Iraq Invasion & Patriot Act to President Obama’s Immigration Amnesty & Minimum Wage Hike: The Roots of Executive Overreach in Lincoln & Roosevelt’s Administrations – Guest Essayist: Paul Schwennesen

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Oh, how we fret!  Rightfully, of course, for nothing is more frightening to the American Mind than the specter of overweening authority.  During the second Bush Administration, the Left was beside itself with concern over executive overreach (from the Iraq invasion to the Patriot Act) and now, during the Obama Administration, the Right is beside itself with concerns about usurped power (from the federal minimum wage hike to Immigration amnesty).  It is good to highlight the tendency of Presidents to overstep their constitutional bounds—but emphasizing it risks ignoring a far deeper and more insidious problem: the immense and pernicious power of Administrative Despotism.  While we focus in animated concern upon the head of the snake, we forget the innumerable coils that already surround us.

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Can Congress Stop Federal Agencies From Running Riot Over Your Liberties? Yes. – Guest Essayist: George Landrith

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News reports of federal agencies abusing the rights of Americans and violating the law have become all too common. It is no longer plausible for defenders of big government to argue that these abuses are simply a few isolated incidents. We have witnessed a veritable parade of lawless abuses from all corners of the federal government. Read more

The Geneva College Case: Edelweiss and Rights of Conscience Today– Guest Essayist: Kevin Theriot

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of The Sound of Music, a sweet love story built around the somewhat grittier sub-plot of Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria in the late 1930s. The movie is actually based on the true story of an Austrian naval hero – Captain Georg von Trapp – who opposes the Nazi Anschluss and refuses to accept a commission in the German navy. He takes a stand near the end of the movie by singing the patriotic song “Edelweiss” at a local festival. The song summons all Austrians who love freedom to stand by their convictions and refuse to violate them, even when being coerced by an out-of-control executive.

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The Imperial Obama Presidency and the Demise of Checks and Balances – Guest Essayist: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

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Under President Obama, America has witnessed an unprecedented expansion of presidential power.  This is not merely the observation of political opponents.  Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley—who voted for President Obama—has reached the same conclusion:  “We are seeing the emergence of a different model of government in our country—a model long ago rejected by the Framers.”[1]  “What’s emerging,” according to Professor Turley, “is an imperial presidency, an über-presidency . . . where the President can act unilaterally.”[2]

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Federalism On Life Support: The Affordable Care Act And How It Affects You – Guest Essayist: Troy Kickler

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Criticism abounds regarding President Barack Obama and executive overreach. To name one example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as “Obamacare,” has raised the ire of many Americans. Expansive government and centralized approaches to political issues, admittedly, started before the Obama administration, but current executive overreach has accelerated the size of the national government and threatens individual liberty.  Various administrative divisions, whether classified as executive agencies or executive departments, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, have been scrutinized, too. Through “the administrative state,” what some have labeled the “fourth branch of government,” the executive branch seemingly continues to have its fingerprints on more and more aspects of American lives. Read more

How Executive Overreach Affects Your Liberties – Guest Essayist: James Legee

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Executive overreach often refers to the growth of the administrative state beneath the President, and whether it has grown beyond the Constitutional limits meant to ensure checks and balances, and protect the liberty of the people.  When discussed in the media, among academics, and at dinner tables and coffee shops around the United States, attention is often turned towards the actions, or attempted actions, of the current White House resident.  Debate over executive orders, signing statements, the limits of war powers, recess appointments, border security, healthcare, swirl and blend in a way such that those without an addiction to the news or a background in government, can easily become lost, or worse, turned off from what is happening in current events.

Functionally, and regardless of ideology, it is difficult to debate the fact that the presidency has overstepped the vision the founders had for the office, and the restraint on power the Constitution was intended to serve as. Missing from the discussion is that the presidency – both the office and the person – has more and more insinuated itself into the daily lives and workings of citizens.  This goes well beyond, and began well before, movement politicians, like President Obama or Ron Paul’s attempts for the Oval Office.

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The IRS’ Reach Into Political Speech – Guest Essayist: Andrew Langer

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The power to tax is the power to destroy. When Justice Marshall wrote these words in 1819 (echoing the words of Daniel Webster) he was expressing what could be considered a prophetic statement–those who have the power to tax wield enormous power over everyday lives, power that is apt to be abused.

This mistrust of those who hold the tax and power is nothing new. Looking back at the New Testament, those who witnessed Christ’s acts noted the skepticism that abounded because among those Jesus surrounded himself by where tax collectors, who were commonly reviled.

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To Rein In Spending, Congress Must Act – Guest Essayist: Scot Faulkner

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Expanding Presidential power usually erodes democracy, expands government, and facilitates the rise of an increasingly unaccountable “Imperial Presidency”.  Ironically, giving Presidents more power to control spending does just the opposite.

The struggle over government spending has been a fundamental point of contention since the earliest days of our Federal Government.  In the last twenty years, this issue has split the Democrats in Congress, frustrated Republican and Democratic Presidents, and generated numerous Supreme Court cases.  The 1974 effort to resolve the matter, once and for all, substantively contributed to the current explosion in federal spending.

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Why The U.S. House Is Suing The Obama Administration – Guest Essayist: Hadley Heath Manning

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Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution describe the roles of the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches of the federal government. It’s clear that the Founders intended for Congress to make the laws, the administration to enforce the laws, and the courts to interpret the laws.  Although this doctrine of Separation of Powers sounds simple, it’s not. The administrative branch holds great power to promulgate regulations and make executive decisions (orders and actions) that wield the force of law, and today, many fear that this power is being abused. Read more

Could a President Take Over The Coal Industry? It Happened With The Steel Industry And Congress Did Nothing – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath

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As introduced in the previous post, the 1952 Steel Seizure Case is a cornerstone of the Court’s separation of powers jurisprudence. The case arose out of President Harry Truman’s decision to seize the steel mills to prevent a labor strike that, he claimed, threatened steel production for the war effort in Korea. The Court was presented with the difficult problem of resolving, in a legal setting, the essentially political wrangling between Congress and the President, with the latter pressing his constitutional power claims to the maximum. At another level, the case exposed the fault lines between the American view of the Constitution as both the source and the basic formal law of government, and the classical view of constitutions as mere reflections of formal and informal political accommodations already made otherwise. Read more

This Week, 63 Years Ago-April 8, 1952: Truman Seizes Control of the Steel Industry by Executive Order-What Did the Supreme Court Decide & Why? Part I – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath

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Separation Of Powers Case: Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (Part 1)

When the Supreme Court addresses constitutional aspects of executive “overreach,” it often does so in the context of a clash between the President relying on a broad reading of his constitutional powers and the Congress attempting to limit those powers through the use of its own. The controversy that raises the issue is usually said to involve the Court in the delicate, but vital, role of “policing the boundaries established by the Constitution.” To decide just where the boundaries relating to the separation of powers lie, the Court typically looks to the framework established in the foundational case, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952). Read more

James Madison Would Have Said Balanced And Checked – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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The phrase checks and balances has become so commonplace that it is often spoken as if it were a single word, but in the eighteen century, it was two distinct concepts. John Adams may have been the first to put the words checks and balances together in that order in his 1787 publication, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, but balance and check is the phrase used in The Federalist, and that is the sequence James Madison would have thought appropriate. First, balance powers between the branches of government, and then check those powers so they are not abused.

In his voluminous Constitutional Convention notes, Madison recorded himself as saying that he “could not discover … any violation of the maxim which requires the great departments of power to be kept separate and distinct … If a constitutional discrimination of the departments on paper were a sufficient security to each against encroachments of the others, all further provisions would indeed be superfluous. But experience had taught us a distrust of that security; and that it is necessary to introduce such a balance of powers and interests, as will guarantee the provisions on paper. Instead therefore of contenting ourselves with laying down the theory in the Constitution that each department ought to be separate and distinct, it was proposed to add a defensive power to each which should maintain the theory in practice.”

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Why Separate Government Powers? – Guest Essayist: James D. Best

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Concentrated political power frightened the Founders. They especially feared unrestrained executive power. In fact, some of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention fought for a weak executive because history had been a continuous stream of kings and rulers supplanting legislative bodies. Despite misgivings, James Madison convinced the delegates that balanced power with effective checks was the only way to secure liberty and the idea became foremost in the design of a new government.

When you study the political formation of the United Sates, one is struck by the recurrence of the checks and balances theme— in Madison’s convention notes, the Constitution itself, the Federalist Papers, the minutes of the ratification conventions, and even the Anti-Federalist papers. There can be no doubt that a national consensus supported the concept that each part of the government should act as an effective check on all of the other parts of the government. Read more

Is The Pending Deal With Iran Over Its Nuclear Program A Treaty – Or Not? – Guest Essayist: Colin Hanna

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Is the pending deal with Iran over its nuclear program a treaty – or not?  What powers does the Constitution give the President, and what powers does it give the Senate?

There are three places in the Constitution that address treaties with other nations.  The first is the most relevant to this discussion.  It is easy to recall where it is: just remember the numbers 2-2-2: It is Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. [The President] “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…”  That clearly makes a treaty conditional upon the concurrence, or affirmative vote, of two thirds of the Senators voting.  Both the President and the Secretary of State are former Senators, presumably well-acquainted with that stipulation.  So on what basis can they claim that Senate approval of this proposed deal is not required? Read more

Announcing Our Upcoming 90 Day Study – Launching Monday, April 6

Constitutional Crisis – How Executive Overreach is Impeding Your Liberties and Undermining States’ Sovereignty: A Study on the Critical Erosion of Constitutional Checks and Balances.

This year’s 90 Day Essay Study will focus on examples of the dramatic expansion of executive branch power at the expense of both Congress and states’ sovereignty – and explain why this is happening. It is, of course, happening due to the breakdown of the Constitutional checks and balances, and the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court are all at fault.

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