The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Monday, May 01, 2006

No Law

This is an interesting development. It turns out that the executive branch has declared itself above the law. The executive branch decides what it thinks is constitutional, and decides which laws and which parts of laws of Congress it will follow. (No need to get that pesky "line item veto" amendment passed - just act like it has passed, and presto) Even when Congress specifically prohibits the executive from doing something, this administration has over the last five years, just ignored those restrictions when it was inconvenient, or "unconstitutional".

I don't know why the right wing worries so much about who gets to sit on the Supreme Court, seeing as how they've pretty much rendered it useless by establishing a dictatorship anyway.

From the article, entitled "Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws" in the Boston Globe (free registration required):

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.


Bush has also said he can bypass laws requiring him to tell Congress before diverting money from an authorized program in order to start a secret operation, such as the ''black sites" where suspected terrorists are secretly imprisoned.


But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.
Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ''Bush has essentially said that 'We're the executive branch and we're going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.' "
''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

For more excerpts and commentary, see Digby and Glenn Greenwald. This country has passed from a democracy to a dictatorship, we just don't realize it yet.

Edit to add: here is a key paragraph from Glenn:

It is not uncommon for a President to refrain from executing a law which he believes, and states, is unconstitutional. Other Presidents have invoked that doctrine, although Bush has done so far more aggressively and frequently. But what is uncommon - what is entirely unprecedented - is that the administration's theories of its own power arrogate unto itself not just the right to refrain from enforcing such laws, but to act in violation of those laws, to engage in the very conduct which those laws criminalize, and they do so secretly and deceitfully, after signing the law and pretending that they are engaged in the democratic process. That is why the President has never bothered to veto a law -- why bother to veto laws when you have the power to violate them at will?


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