The Executive Power of the office of the President is a mighty tool. As stated in the Constitution, Article II, section 1, first sentence:
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.
It is a broad statement that has been defined as presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty. The Executive Power of the nation has been used to put Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II, pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders, and creating the Homeland Security Department. Perhaps the most famous use of Executive Power was used by President Lincoln, a use that remains controversial today,
"Hon. Williams described two cases that reflected Lincoln’s view of the Constitution. First, Lincoln acted then he went to Congress for ratification. Lincoln had realized he had stretched his power, but Lincoln acted out of necessity... Therefore it is clear from Hon. Williams’ discussion that it was Lincoln’s belief that war-time presidents should be allotted certain flexibilities, and Lincoln acted accordingly."
President Obama's use of the Executive Power has been no less controversial. Especially considering the stance taken May 2008 when asked directly about this subject.
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Since elected President Obama has issued 10 signing statements, which have drawn 78 court battles. He has used the Executive Power to start a war in Libya, and expand the use of drone attacks. But as Laura Meckler stated in her Wall Street Journal article on March 20, 2012
"What's unusual about Mr. Obama is that he also has used executive power to press his domestic agenda."
Examples of this have been the waiving of work requirements for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, a move the G.A.O. found to be unprecedented and without provision of law. There was also the controversial Executive Order preventing the deportation of an estimated 1.4 million illegal aliens.
Further there have been hints that the Obama Administration is seeking to circumvent the Supreme Court on other issues that the Administration disagrees with, such as the statement by David Axelrod on June 22, 2012
"I hope that one of the things we can do, when we win this election, is use whatever tools are available, up to and including a Constitutional amendment, to turn this [Supreme Court decision on Citizens United] back.”
The latest issue of concern over Executive Power is in regard to gun control/restriction. In what may be a testing of the political waters, Vice President Biden announced on January 9, 2013
"The president is going to act," Biden said. "There are executives orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required."
Unlike the Civil War that created a need for President Lincoln, or the creation of Homeland Security due to the 9/11 attack, there is no war or threat to national security that requires the domestic applications of Executive Power that President Obama has been using. These are issues currently being discussed and presented in Congress, in the case of gun control/restriction it has not even gotten the change to get a vote before the Obama Administration has established a desire to enact rules the President singularly approves of.
As someone who formerly taught Constitutional law, President Obama is innately aware of the limits and proper application of Executive Power. By his own words, he stated that he believes that the expansion of this power is beyond the President. But by his actions and proposed actions it would appear that the President only meant that such limited use should apply to political ideals held separate of his own, apparently.
All Presidents have used Executive Power, and sought to expand that power during their Administrations. Few can be argued to have done so with such emphasis on domestic issues, with purely partisan intent, even as the Congress starts to address the issue President Obama clearly has preferences on.
So far the Obama Administration has created the precedence of Government rights that exceed the Rights of the people, supported by a Supreme Court decision that warns
The Obama Administration has attempted to redefine the 1973 War Powers Act, which even ardent supporters like the New York Times took issue with
"[War Powers Act] says that 60 or 90 days after notifying Congress of the introduction of armed forces “into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated,” the president must receive Congressional authorization or terminate the mission.
The Obama Administration has created authority where none existed before
The Obama Administration has even amended standing law to suit its needs
"The only reason it’s under [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano’s discretion is because Obama had made his decision. If she’s doing it under her own, she would have to be fired...It’s the duty of the president. He must always uphold the law." - John Yoo, law professor at University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. deputy assistant attorney
The currently proposed actions to potentially circumvent the 2nd Amendment, and Congress, can only be seen as a push to deny the Rights of the American people, to exert a partisan political philosophy, and to expand the power of Government above that of the people it is there to serve. This situation deserves greater attention, and public input. The real question is if the major media, the Constitutionally intended watchdogs of Government, will sit idle or present the situation for what it apparently seems to be.