Sunday, May 21, 2006

Circumventing the Constitution?


The following is a column written by a retired district court judge. I wish that he had cited his sources better, however, if his claims are true, than this is extraordinary.
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Bush governs in dictator style
Robert L. Black Jr.

The investigation by Congress of the surveillance of domestic telephone and emails calls is an absolute necessity, because the greatest threat at this time is not so much to our "security" as to the preservation of our constitutional system of government.

The underlying question is whether we will discard the checks and balances of the Constitution in favor of some sort of mythical guarantee of our security.

President Bush's approval of domestic surveillance is just the tip of the iceberg. The Boston Globe on April 30 (and the New York Times on May 12) reported that President Bush claims authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office.

He has used statements made in writing at the time he signed the laws (known as "signing statements") to state his position that he need not enforce specific provisions of the act. His assertion is that he thinks they are unconstitutional because they encroach on his inherent powers as president. In brief, his position is that he alone can decide what is constitutional.

An outstanding example is the one he issued after the torture law was enacted placing clear restrictions on the use of torture. He had agreed to the wording of the law during the legislative process. In the signing statement he basically repudiated the whole act by claiming he could decide when the law would be enforced and when it would not be enforced.

The Constitution says that the president must enforce congressional enactments without exception.

Bush has implicitly defied the Supreme Court's ruling that Congress could legally give certain executive branch officials (such as, a special prosecutor) the power to act independently of the president or the executive branch. He has said that the Constitution gives him control over all executive officials regardless of what Congress enacts.

The leadership style is hierarchical, with the top guy able to make any decision he pleases basically without any approval from any quarter. It is the style of a dictator. It is 100 percent subversive of our Constitutional framework.

Are we read to discard our Constitution because we are afraid of Osama bin Laden?

Robert L. Black Jr. is retired judge for the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals.

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