Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Immigration, Liberty, & An Existential Constitutional Crisis

"This meeting can do nothing more to save the country."

Samuel Adams, Dec. 16, 1773

When Samuel Adams said the quote above, he was in a meeting with several thousand other colonists. He had just been informed that the colony's Royal Governor would not allow the East India Company's tea to be returned to Britain. That tea had been shipped on consignment to America and subject to a tax not approved by the colonists. It was the final straw in a Constitutional crisis started by the British themselves in 1761 when they attempted to limit the rights of British citizens living in the American colonies. With Adams's pronouncement, the Revolution was inevitable.

The American Revolution was fought over British liberty. When Americans cried out, "No Taxation Without Representation," they were not innovating new rights. They were demanding the King honor a right of British citizens that dated back to 1215 A.D. and the Magna Carta. After the war, what America produced was a Constitution and Bill of Rights that, but with few changes, memorialized British liberties. Those liberties were neither conservative nor liberal. Rather, they were a series of systems very carefully designed to insure that the will of the people was paramount, that the will of the majority did not become itself a lawless tyranny, and that the powers of government be limited lest it too become a tyranny. To that end, the system the Founders designed very carefully diffused power over the three branches of government.

And for much of the last two and a quarter centuries, the system has worked brilliantly, albeit imperfectly. Policy disputes come and go. So long as they are resolved within the framework of our systems, than all is well. But the system has broken down now, in three very critical ways, two of which pose a long term threat to our liberties and one of which presents an immediate, catastrophic threat. All ultimately revolve around the most fundamental aspect of our system, Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution -- that the sole right to pass laws resides in our elected members of Congress.

One break is in the regulatory bureaucracy, addressed here and, most recently, here as regards the FCC plan to take control of the Internet. The second break is our Court system, addressed here. Both of those breaks can be corrected by Congress if and when they find the will to do so.

The most immediate, dangerous and quite likely existential threat to our system of government comes now from our President. For the first time in our Republic's history, we have a President legislating unilaterally. That is the very definition of tyranny.

The President is charged with the duty of executing the laws of our nation. As regards illegal aliens, the laws require that they be deported. How to effect that is legitimately within Presidential discretion. It is Constitutionally problematic that our President should choose to ignore those laws, claiming the right to do as being within his "discretion." But then Obama goes beyond that. He is in the process of affirmatively granting these illegals "the ability to obtain Social Security numbers, work authorization permits, and the ability to travel.” That's not discretion, that's legislation that can only be lawfully passed by the elected representatives of the people. Obama's actions are a direct threat to our system of liberties.

There is no question why the President is doing what he is -- for immediate political gain. The thought is that these five million plus new immigrants will be left wing voters who will, for a generation or more, alter the political balance of power in this country. I oppose that policy on political grounds, but that is for reasoned debate.

But the President's actions take this orders of magnitude outside the realm of a policy argument. This is a fundamental challenge to our system of government that needs to be fought on every level and by every means. If the President's action is allowed to stand, it marks the date of the end our nation as one based on the Constitution and rule of law. Any politician who does not oppose this action is quite simply a traitor to this nation. And if the legislature cannot stop this action, then we must hope that the Courts finally do their job of protecting the sanctity of the system. For if not, than, truly, we "can do nothing more to save the country."

Update: John Hinderaker at Powerline has some very tongue in cheek proposals for amendments to the Constitution in order to clarify, for the Obama administration, the scope and limits of their powers. The irony is that his proposals are quotes from the Constitution.

1 comment:

KG said...

Great post, GW!