How difficult would it be for President Obama to declare he has "executive authority" to set spending without congressional approval, decide that the government can borrow whatever it wants, or to force legal gun owners to surrender their weapons? About as difficult as making it legal for illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S., receive federal benefits, and be given the right to work. It only takes a few strokes of a pen.
When Congress failed to pass the "Dream Act", President Obama simply used his executive authority to create new law (a legislative action), and bypass Congress. The President directed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Director Janet Napolitano, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, to issue new directives that end prosecution of "certain" illegal immigrants, authorizes the release of individuals, from custody, who have been detained for illegally entering the United States, and further instructs ICE employees to release any illegal immigrants, who meet the criteria contained within the directives, and who are arrested by ICE agents for illegally entering into the U.S.
Napolitano and Morton have been sued by 10 ICE officials, including the head of the immigration agency's labor union, Chris Crane, in a lawsuit filed last year in the Northern District of Texas. When asked to comment about the lawsuit, Crane had this to say: "We are federal law enforcement officers who are being ordered to break the law. This directive puts ICE agents and officers in a horrible position".
Congressional Republicans were quick to respond to these "prosecutorial discretion" orders from the directors of both DHS and ICE. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said, in a statement issued along with fellow Texas Republicans Reps. John Carter and Louie Gohmert, "The Obama administration makes it impossible for ICE agents to do their jobs. Instead of enforcing the law, the Obama administration requires ICE agents to release illegal immigrants".
On the other side, Democrats came rushing to defend the actions taken by President Obama and his administration. Congressional Democrats have called the move a key step towards fixing a broken immigration system that penalizes younger illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States by their parents.
When President Obama convinced Congress to ignore the U.S. debt ceiling, and pass legislation that gave the President authority to continue to spend and borrow, without adhering to the debt ceiling agreement achieved in 2011, many in President Obama's inner circle believed that Republicans in Congress had "given in" to Obama's demands that he be able to continue to fund his priorities, without the constraints of a federal budget process. With the "fiscal cliff deal" now behind them, the White House appears to have decided that it wants to see just how far it can push the envelope on developing "new" executive powers for Obama. With willing allies in major media organizations, both here in the U.S. and abroad, we've recently read, heard, and seen news stories that speak to President Obama's claim that he already has enough authority, within the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution, to be able to ignore the debt ceiling, borrow at will, determine how much the federal government spends, and to issue "executive orders" to address matters that Obama "claims" that Congress is refusing to debate or come to an agreement on.
It appears that the first item on the President's "executive authority" agenda will be guns. Vice President Joe Biden has announced that President Obama is considering using "executive orders" to regulate who may own a firearm, what kinds of guns can be controlled by the White House, as well as declaring certain persons "unfit for gun ownership". Obama appears to be leaning towards expanding his authority under Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. In this section of the constitution, the framers gave the President the authority to adjourn Congress "on extraordinary Occasions convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper", and that "he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States."
By declaring the most important items on his agenda, those being, immediately, gun violence, the "sequester", the debt ceiling, and the current "continuing resolution" which provides funding for all agencies and programs managed and controlled by the federal government, to be "a national emergency", President Obama can adjourn Congress indefinitely, issue executive orders to create a "solution" to these issues that is more to the his liking, and then, perhaps at a future date, "permit" Congress to reconvene to carry out the people's business. Will the "executive orders", that Vice President Biden was referring to, include temporarily eliminating the authority of our elected representatives in Congress, deputizing hundreds of thousands of his supporters as unpaid "enforcement agents" of his new "gun violence prevention initiatives", and create new authority for the President to seize authority over federal spending, borrowing, and gun rights, eliminating the most important powers of Congress and giving them to himself? At this point, it sure seems that way.
The President can use Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution as the foundation for anything that he wants to do, in order to rule by decree. At this point, it looks like the only branch of government that can stop President Obama from moving forward with his plan to ignore Congress is the U.S. Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court has the authority to declare the actions of the President to be unlawful; yet, the Supreme Court would be unable to prevent a decision by President Obama to grant himself legislative authority before any such decision might be made. If the President moves forward in granting himself new legislative powers, the President would be, in effect, suspending the U.S. Constitution; a move that has never before been attempted by any sitting President of the United States.
The power of the Supreme Court, to rule actions by the President to be unlawful, rests in Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Section 1 states: "The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." Section 2 states: "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority..." Representatives in Congress don't necessarily have to wait until the President acts, as their counterparts in the U.S. Supreme Court are compelled to do so. A lawsuit by Republicans in the House, asking for a temporary injunction from the Supreme Court, to suspend the President's authority to issue executive orders that would be equal to creating legislation from the Oval Office, may be the only way to prevent President Obama from ordering house to house searches, performed by state and local law enforcement officials, with the help of Obama supporters who would be deputized for the effort, in the pursuit of seizing legally owned firearms. The real intent of Biden's task force appears, at least at this point, to be laying the ground work for grabbing the guns, then forcing gun owners to prove they have the right to own those guns.
Could a new federal agency, created by President Obama, be in the works to oversee the implementation of these new Obama administration "laws"? While such an agency would fall under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, there are rumors surfacing that the President is considering such an option, giving this new federal "working group" the power to declare gun owners, who refuse to surrender their firearms, "enemy combatants" under the USA Patriot Act, and committing those who don't cooperate to "indefinite detention".
Think it can't happen? Take your time, and think about the history of the state of Germany. In Germany, during the reign of Adolf Hitler, laws were established to give the state the power to take guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. Once you were on the list of "enemies of the state", you could no longer legally own a gun. The seizure of guns, from those who did not support the rule of the Nazis in Germany, was the first step towards tyranny in that country. Then, concentration camps were set up to "deal" with those who did not want to cooperate with Adolf Hitler's "vision" for Germany.
Here in America, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been preparing for the declaration of a "national emergency" by President Obama. "Detention facilities" are fully functional now, and ready to receive new prisoners. Now most Americans thought that once World War II had ended, so ended the need to have internment camps for American citizens. Once Biden had mentioned "executive orders" in the context of gun control, that signaled to those within the federal government that the President was prepared to issue an order declaring martial law. We can only begin to guess at how many meetings have already been held in "preparation" for an announcement that Biden has said that he will make on Tuesday.
If President Obama does decide to "go rogue", there isn't a lot that can be done after the fact to upend such a decision. Declaring a "national emergency" will force most legal gun owners to either submit to "further investigation" by those "empowered" to conduct such investigations, agree to a criminal background check, surrender their weapons when required to do so by law enforcement, or any number of other actions to comply with decrees from the White House, while the rest of us will need to try and figure out how we can avoid being declared an "enemy of the state".
Will the "new normal" result in the indefinite internment of lawful gun owners in the United States? While it's too early to answer that question as of today, with President Obama mentioning "universal gun registration" through his surrogates, that means that in order to achieve that goal, you have to be able to identify who has a gun, and who does not. The only sure way to learn who has possession of a firearm will be to conduct a house to house search of every residence and building in the United States; and that will require the declaration of a national emergency, and the imposition of martial law, in order to make it so. From the looks of things, it appears that the White House, and FEMA, are ready for such an eventuality. Are you ready for this version of the "new normal" for lawful gun owners in America?