There has been a lot of controversy in Washington lately over the President's unilateral changes to the Affordable Health Care law. It seems some lawmakers, including some Democrats, believe (and rightly so) that President Obama's changes to the health care law, without the approval of the House of Representatives, are unconstitutional.
When the President of the United States signs a bill into law he issues a signing statement - that is - the President may add a signing statement to clarify how he understands the law. That way, if the law comes under question, the court has the option of considering both the legislative history and the executive signing statement when the law is interpreted.
When a bill is presented to the President, Article 1 of the Constitution affords him three choices: do nothing, sign the bill, or, if he disapproves of the bill, veto it in its entirety and return it to the House in which it originated, along with his written objections to it. The Constitution does not authorize the President to use signing statements to circumvent any validly enacted Congressional Laws, nor does it authorize him to declare he will disobey such laws (or parts thereof).
A study released by then-Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger (1993–1996) grouped signing statements into three categories:
Constitutional: asserts that the law is constitutionally defective in order to guide executive agencies in limiting its implementation;
Political: defines vague terms in the law to guide executive agencies in its implementation as written;
Rhetorical: uses the signing of the bill to mobilize political constituencies.
The Constitution also does not allow a President to make changes to an existing law unilaterally. The President is bound to uphold and enforce laws of the land as written and, if a change to a law is desired or necessary, it is up to the House of Representatives to make that happen.
President Obama, who it is said taught Constitutional law for 10 years, seems to have forgotten or overlooked these particular facts. The President has changed the Affordable Care Act numerous times for political gain. Most recently, because of political pressure from fellow Democrats, he delayed the employer mandate and allowed insurance companies to continue what he calls "substandard" plans to prevent more people from having their policies cancelled. There is, after all, an election coming up next year and many Democrats are worried about their re-election because of the Obamacare fiasco.
Just this week, Congressional Democrats and liberal activists have urged the President to go around Congress and issue Executive Orders demanding government contractors pay workers more than minimum wage and to halt all deportation of illegal aliens until immigration reform has become a reality. Last year the President took it upon himself to halt deportation of certain illegals. Now activists want him to simply take over control of deportation completely.
“To not use his executive authority is not just unstrategic; it is cruel,” said Tania Unzueta, from the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
After years of denying he had such power the President, last year, issued a policy saying he would no longer deport young illegals who were brought here by their parents. This was no signing statement - it was a flat out refusal to enforce written law. In all my years I've never seen any President but Obama declare, three years after the law went into effect, that he was not going to enforce it as written. And that's what the discussion is about.
Sadly, no on in the House is taking the President to task on this as of yet. Congresswoman Michelle Bachman is considering a lawsuit but who knows where that will go? Can they sue the President of the United States?
This President is pushing the boundaries of his authority - trying every day to gain more and more power and control so he can rule without the other two branches. He wants to be king, or dictator, and has said more than once that the Constitution gets in the way of things he wants to do. Gee, Mr. Constitutional law professor, that's what it was intended to do.