A couple weeks ago, I wouldn’t have bet a plug nickel the
freedom-loving Americans would rally to stop implementation of President
Clinton’s hideous Executive Order 13083.
Nobody in Congress even seemed to know about the order. Those who
took the time to read it, simply didn’t comprehend the threat it
represents. Many national conservative leaders told us they weren’t
losing any sleep over it, either.
This reaction to an executive order that stood on its head the 10th
Amendment principles of state powers, individuals’ rights and
limitations on the authority of the federal government. If this
executive order is permitted to stand as the law of the land, it will
mean America has reached the point of dictatorship — where presidents,
with the stroke of a pen, can not only make laws but subvert the
Constitution under which they derive their limited authority in the
But this shortcut to American-style fascism was short-circuited — at
least temporarily — by two encouraging developments last week.
First, two congressmen — Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Bob Barr of
Georgia — sponsored legislation, HR 4197, the “State Sovereignty Act of
1998,” declaring 13083 null and void.
“The head of each Federal department and each Federal agency shall
ensure that each activity of the department or agency, respectively, is
carried out in accordance with all provisions of Executive Order 12612
(as in effect on October 26, 1987) as apply to the activity under the
terms of that Executive Order,” the bill adds.
Executive Order 12612 was issued by President Reagan. EO 13083
repealed its provisions. For a comparison of the two executive orders,
see them side-by-side.
The second major encouraging development was the action taken by the
“Big Seven” organizations of state and local governments — the National
Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, the
Council of State Governments, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the
National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the
International City/County Management Association.
In an unexpected move, these organizations united to take issue with
EO 13083. They drafted a letter to Clinton demanding he withdraw the
executive order. They also sent representatives to meet with Mickey
Ibarra, the chief of White House intergovernmental relations.
The conflict resulted in the first story about EO 13083 in the
establishment press. The Washington Post’s David Broder was forced to
report on the controversy. It must have been somewhat embarrassing,
given that the only national news agency to report on EO 13083
previously was WorldNetDaily.
White House officials told the Post they had decided to recommend to
the president that implementation of the order be delayed so that state
and local officials could have their say.
Pretty ironic. One of the provisions of the executive order mandated
that federal action affecting states and local governments occur only
after consultation with state and local officials. No such consultation
took place before EO 13083 was prepared and issued by the president from
Birmingham, England, in May.
Is this the end? Not by a long shot. This is a victory only in the
same sense that CNN’s apology for the Tailwind hoax was. Peter Arnett is
still working. Likewise, this is just a temporary setback to Bill
Clinton’s plans to extend his control over virtually every aspect of
Americans’ lives. He won’t stop here. He won’t allow Reagan’s
reaffirmation of 10th Amendment principles to stand. He won’t stop
chipping away at our freedoms.
Congress must reassert its authority. It must begin doing so in ways
that are in line with constitutional principle. It must check the abuses
of the administration, and it must curtail its own.
The fact that an executive order like 13083 could be issued and meet
initially with no controversy illustrates just how far America has
strayed from its heritage of limited government and separation of