To the editor:
In their letter of July 11, Dr. John and Mary Kluge suggested that the editor should have explored "diverse sources" when commenting on the president's use of executive orders and recess appointments. Apparently they feel that a closer examination of how other presidents have used these powers would show that the current president is only doing what has always been done.
But this is simply not the case. Consider recess appointments. The Constitution allows the president to make temporary appoints to key positions when the Senate is not in session. Many presidents have used this power, sometimes to (temporarily) appoint people whom the Senate would have rejected.
But never, never in the history of the United States, has a president made a recess appointment when the Senate has declared itself to be in session. President Obama is the first president to assume to himself the power of unilaterally declaring the Senate to be in recess in order to bypass the confirmation process. The Supreme Court rightly declared his action to be unconstitutional.
And what about executive orders? As head of the executive branch of the federal government, the president is responsible for executing the laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law. In order to carry of this responsibility, presidents issue executive orders.
Many previous presidents have flirted with using executive orders to advance their agendas beyond the boundaries of the laws passed by Congress. Some of their orders have been successfully challenged in court.
But the current president has gone well beyond flirting. On numerous occasions, his executive orders have set aside the specific stipulations of the statutes passed by Congress, and have substituted requirements of his own choosing. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, at least 27 unambiguous provisions of the law were set aside or changed.
Never before in our history has a president used executive orders as an instrument for nullifying the plain words of the law, and imposing instead his own will on the people.
The Kluges say they are thankful we have President Obama dealing with these difficult issues rather than the Republicans from the House of Representatives. The problems facing our country are difficult, yes, but our Constitution does not allow either the president or Congress to deal with these things on their own. We must not allow any president to assume to himself the power to make or change laws. If we do, our republic will be a thing of the past, and we will live under a dictator.
Michael A. Thom