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George Bush, Law Breaker

by RonChusid

The Boston Globe reports on George Bush’s refusal to follow the law:

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ”whistle-blower” protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush’s assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ”to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ”execute” a law he believes is unconstitutional.

Former administration officials contend that just because Bush reserves the right to disobey a law does not mean he is not enforcing it: In many cases, he is simply asserting his belief that a certain requirement encroaches on presidential power.

But with the disclosure of Bush’s domestic spying program, in which he ignored a law requiring warrants to tap the phones of Americans, many legal specialists say Bush is hardly reluctant to bypass laws he believes he has the constitutional authority to override.

Conservatives, who once showed a healthy skepticism towards the power of government, now excuse such actions as part of the power of the president. Those in touch with reality see this as crossing the line between democracy and tyranny.

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive-power issues, said Bush has cast a cloud over ”the whole idea that there is a rule of law,” because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore.

”Where you have a president who is willing to declare vast quantities of the legislation that is passed during his term unconstitutional, it implies that he also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional,” Golove said. . .

Golove said that to the extent Bush is interpreting the Constitution in defiance of the Supreme Court’s precedents, he threatens to ”overturn the existing structures of constitutional law.”

A president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him, Golove said, can make the Constitution simply ”disappear.”

Previous presidents may have objected to laws, but they remained within the Constitution:

Still, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton used the presidential veto instead of the signing statement if they had a serious problem with a bill, giving Congress a chance to override their decisions.

But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.

Bush’s actions break down separation of powers, especially when those of his own party control Congress and are unwilling to fulfill their duties:

Without court involvement, only Congress can check a president who goes too far. But Bush’s fellow Republicans control both chambers, and they have shown limited interest in launching the kind of oversight that could damage their party.

”The president is daring Congress to act against his positions, and they’re not taking action because they don’t want to appear to be too critical of the president, given that their own fortunes are tied to his because they are all Republicans,” said Jack Beermann, a Boston University law professor. ”Oversight gets much reduced in a situation where the president and Congress are controlled by the same party.”

Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ”Bush has essentially said that ‘We’re the executive branch and we’re going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.’ ”

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ”to exercise some self-restraint.” But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

”This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy,” Fein said. ”There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn’t doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power.

13 Responses to “George Bush, Law Breaker”

  1. Thanks Ron,

    This definitely needed a post.
    It underscores my position in “NOT in MY Name”.
    Bush’s deception of this country on policy issues is hard to grasp as believable, real and going unchecked.

    Slightly off topic, but another link I found at “Patrick Fitzgerald’s” blog:


    With the same warning: these are graphic pictures that are upsetting to say the least. It is written in Spanish. You really don’t need to know what the captions say. The pictures are enough.
    I think Iraq will easily rival the Civil war in the percentages of amputees. The difference is the amputations in the civil war were due more to infection and not having our current capacity to revascularize injured limbs. Iraq amputations are pretty much happening in the field. The only thing left for the docs to do in many cases is modify the amputation so the limb will accomodate a prosethesis, and create the skin overlap of the stump from what’s left of the limb.

  2. “…he [Bush] is simply asserting his belief…”

    Pretty much sums his entire WH watch to me. :-\ Off to read the link Ginny provided.

  3. What a mess!

    “Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ‘’Bush has essentially said that ‘We’re the executive branch and we’re going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.’ ””

    I do wish they would try it! They won’t but one can wish.

  4. My god, Ginny. Can only take those photos in a few at at time.

    I interviewed a young Marine who had a major head injury while in Iraq. His first child was due to be born just four days after our interview. He had zero short term memory, and kept asking me to repeat the question. And he came back with all him limbs.

    He broke my heart, needless to say.

  5. Pamela,

    Interesting analysis and your response. Makes me wonder if part of this gamble has been betting on the American public not wanting another impeachment trial so soon after the GOP misuse of it on Clinton. The anticipation that it would be perceived as just a partisan backlash.

    It leads me to wonder, knowing how much long range planning the GOP has been doing for 40 years, if the whole Clinton impeachment farce was really to set up that attitude – so the next GOP president could do a lot of impeachable things without worrying about the public giving serious thought to pushing a GOP congress to pursue impeachment.

    I really am not fond of hats, especially the tin foil fashion. It just adds to the whole feeling of being the victims of the biggest con scheme in history. The bizarre stuff is true, yet trying to expose it makes the sane ones look like they are the kooks.

    I think it’s time to drop ‘almost’ from “Almost the worst crisis in history” (E&P)

  6. KJ,

    Deep sigh, there are so many ways their lives are destroyed.
    For what? So we don’t have to fight the terrorists at home?

    Or is that, so the average American will believe THEY will not suffer from terrorist attacks here at home.

    Even though BushCo has done virtually nothing (except break the wiretapping laws) to make us safer. Not that the info from the wiretaps has really produced much.

    I left a thank you to Patrick on his blog. Tomorrow I am going to the VA Hospital to apply for a job. I’ve been on the verge for some time. Just letting it sit in my conscience while I watched the events of the past 2 months unfold.

  7. Ginny

    I could not agree more. The fear of partisan backlash is a serious hold off right now with midterms around the corner. Did the GOp set this up so they could get away with so much more than Nixon – pass the tinfoil please, I need a hat.

  8. Remember kids, he’s the “decider” he can break the law!

  9. Oh Ginny, your heart will be broken on a daily basis. {{{{Ginny}}}} What service you will provide, however. How lucky will those people be to have you.

  10. Re: Tin Foil Hats. I’m so irked right now I don’t even want to wear one. Call me nutso, I dare ya, ya ‘winger finks! @;-)

    In my spare moments, I think of billboard slogans along the lines of, well, nevermind. LOLOLOL

  11. KJ

    At least I can do something to heal my own heart and make a difference to those who have hearts, minds and bodies to heal.


    Do you prefer Reynolds or just any store brand?
    Oh, wait. That’s aluminum. Can you get tin foil at the hardware?

  12. Ginny

    I think the aluminum will do under the circumstances after all there is an imposter residing in the white house who thinks he’s above the law.

  13. They want to close the Manhattan VA because the property is so valuable. Mobility and distance are such important issue, as well as any availability.

    So much of the character of our city is being given up to developers.