While in Birmingham, England, last month, President Clinton quietly
signed a skillfully crafted executive order that fundamentally alters
the relationship between Washington and the states and seriously erodes
the balance of powers established by the 10th Amendment.
Executive Order 13083 released May 14, and which now has the power of
law, begins innocently enough by restating the principles of federalism
that limit the power and scope of the U.S. government under the
Constitution. In fact, my reaction to reading the first two sections of
the order was surprise that such principles would even be acknowledged
by the Clinton administration, which typically acts as if there are no
limits to the jurisdiction of the federal government.
That’s the window dressing. The meat of this chilling document comes
in section 3, where the president establishes all the exceptions to such
“It is important to recognize the distinction between matters of
national or multi-state scope (which may justify Federal action) and
matters that are merely common to the States (which may not justify
Federal action because individual States, acting individually or
together, may effectively deal with them),” the order reads. It then
lists nine kinds of issues that would justify unilateral federal action:
When the matter to be addressed by Federal action occurs interstate
as opposed to being contained within one State’s boundaries.
When the source of the matter to be addressed occurs in a State
different from the State (or States) where a significant amount of the
When there is a need for uniform national standards.
When decentralization increases the costs of government thus
imposing additional burdens on the taxpayer.
When States have not adequately protected individual rights and
When States would be reluctant to impose necessary regulations
because of fears that regulated business activity will relocate to other
When placing regulatory authority at the State or local level would
undermine regulatory goals because high costs or demands for specialized
expertise will effectively place the regulatory matter beyond the
resources of State authorities.
When the matter relates to Federally owned or managed property or
natural resources, trust obligations, or international obligations.
When the matter to be regulated significantly or uniquely affects
Indian tribal governments.
In other words, the federal government can damn well do what it
pleases anytime it damn well wants.
Let’s face it, this list of exceptions could be interpreted as giving
Washington the right to intercede in virtually any matter, any time,
anywhere. Think about it.
Health care? You bet. That’s a matter that occurs interstate.
Environmental standards? We can’t leave an important matter like that to
the states. Education? Well, we need national standards. Law
enforcement? Crime occurs everywhere, doesn’t it? Gun laws? Some states
are not doing their part to protect people from firearms.
Discrimination? Would you believe there are still some states that don’t
allow homosexuals to marry one another?
State and local government just became advisory boards to Washington
– more specifically, to the president, or, shall we say, dictator of
the United States of America. After all, this sweeping rewrite of the
Constitution was accomplished by one official, without consultation,
advice or consent of the Congress or judicial branch.
The executive order states that the federal government will “permit
elected officials and other representatives of State and local
government to provide meaningful and timely input in the development of
regulatory polices. …” Forget about ordinary, private citizens. They
are mere subjects, as far as Clinton is concerned.
With one stroke of the pen, while, perhaps fittingly, on foreign
soil, President Clinton has redefined the American system of government.
And I haven’t seen a word written about it in the Washington Post, The
New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. More importantly, there
wasn’t a vote in Congress or even a committee hearing on a “law” that
would make our Founding Fathers’ heads spin with incredulity.
All of this should leave us with several overriding questions: Why
did he feel he needed to establish such a foundation? Where is this all
leading? What is Bill Clinton planning in his final days in office? Or
is he planning to leave at all?