While he isn’t the first president to expand the power of the executive branch, Barack Obama has empowered himself as a quasi-dictator far more than any president in a long time. If he doesn’t get his way with Congress, he issues an executive order, and he's taken the U.S. military to war without Congressional authorization.
And now, Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) is trying to help Obama out. On Friday, he introduced H.J. Res 15, which would repeal the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, allowing Obama to seek a third term. Only one president before him, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, held more than two terms as president, from 1933 to 1945, dying in office. The 22nd Amendment was passed in response to Roosevelt’s presidency.
H.J. Res 15 reads:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:
`The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.'.
The reason for the 22nd Amendment was to limit the power of the presidency, as Roosevelt empowered himself too much. This was why George Washington, who could have easily won a third term, refused to seek one. Thomas Jefferson further warned against third terms for the president, writing in 1807, “If some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life.” Few presidents sought a third term prior to Franklin Roosevelt for this reason.
H.J. Res 15, though, is unlikely to pass, as there have been efforts to repeal the 22nd Amendment in the past. In fact, Serrano has introduced H.J. Res 15 every two years since 1997 and has obviously failed every time. The problem, as mentioned above, is that Obama is already acting like a dictator, even if it isn’t for life, and this precedent will be followed – and most likely expanded upon – by future presidents, regardless of party.