Obomination: President\Emperor Governing By Decree

RNLA Advisory Council Member and Chapman Law Professor Ronald Rotunda supports the goals of President Obama’s immigration plans.  However, he vehemently opposes the methods.  As Professor Rotunda testified  in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week (emphasis added): 

I favor reform along the lines that the President has proposed. Whether Congress enacts “comprehensive” immigration reform or whether it moves one-step at a time, the important thing is reform. The government tells us that there are over 11 million undocumented aliens. This country is not going to march 11 million people across our border. Democracies do not engage in mass deportations. I think we also agree that we have to secure our borders. If a 15-year old can cross our borders without papers, an al Qaeda operative can do the same. 


The issue is whether it is constitutional for the President, unilaterally, to rewrite our immigration laws and change the status of about 5 million people. The President’s executive power does not give him the power to govern by decree. If the President can get away with this action, future Presidents will be able, for example, to rewrite other laws. For example, if the next President does not favor the Affordable Care Act, he or she can simply grant a waiver to all of that law.


Our Constitution rejected the notion that the President can govern by decree. President Obama did not base his decision on any theory that he was merely implementing Congressional intent. He did not argue that any legal precedent supported his actions. He did not even say that he was incorrect when he earlier said, repeatedly, that he does not have the legal authority to deal with undocumented aliens. Instead, the President, in his address to the nation, said that he acted and issued his order because “Congress has failed.”


Congress does not fail when it refuses to enact a presidential proposal. If our Constitution were a computer program, we would not say that the separation of powers is a bug; instead, it is a feature of the program. The framers designed our Constitution to make it difficult to enact laws and to require compromise — all for protecting our liberty. 



If you have a minute, please click on the link for the entire testimony.