The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bush claims authority to break 700+ laws

Well, Stephen Colbert's incredible and cutting send-up of the DC press corps and Bush was great fun, but back to reality. Bush's chummy schtick with the press and their committment to pretty much ignoring the actual impact of his draconian policies.

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.

This brings back all the horror of the right-wing's deafening cries that no citizen is above the law. But Clinton was president then. Different party, different rules. The piece is a long look at the history of Bush and Gonzales pushing their 'unitary executive' theory-- long championed by the Heritage Foundation, but ostensibly only applying to a Republican president. Seriously, if Clinton had tried to assert the right to ignore a single law, the GOP would have been reaching for the torches and pitchforks. It's the ultimate example of the "Bush v Gore test." Namely, if the party affiliation of the official in question were reversed, would you still support the policy.

One other thing-- consider the time and effort that must go into outlining 750 laws that you feel shouldn't apply to you. No lawyer is going to just 'read the title,' as it were and say "Checkarooney." As is always the case with legal issues, there was undoubtedly plenty of reading of the fine print. Which means that there's a battalion of attorneys and clerks devoting their time specifically to expanding the power of the executive branch-- at the behest of the White House. Scary? Ooooooh, yeah.