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Two Republican congressmen — Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia and Rep. Ron
Paul of Texas — are fighting back against what they see as a pattern of
unconstitutional administration policies and directives dramatically
restricting individual and states’ rights.
In particular, Barr and Paul are targeting an effort to create a
national ID card and an executive order issued by President Clinton in
May that would permit the federal government broader intervention powers
in issues previously reserved to state and local authorities.
Paul and Barr are introducing the Freedom and Privacy Restoration Act
to halt an administration plan to create a national ID card by Oct. 1,
2000. The Department of Transportation is currently making final plans
to create uniform federal standards for state-issued driver’s licenses
and county-issued birth certificates. The plans are a direct result of
an obscure section of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act of 1996, which authorized the U.S. Department of
Transportation to establish national requirements for driver’s licenses
— making them, in effect, national ID cards.
“Under the current state of the law, the citizens of states which
have driver’s licenses that do not conform to the federal standards by
Oct. 1, 2000, will find themselves essentially stripped of their ability
to participate in life as we know it,” says Paul. “On that date,
Americans will not be able to get a job, open a bank account, apply for
Social Security or Medicare, exercise their Second Amendment rights, or
even take an airplane flight, unless they can produce state-issued ID
that conforms to the federal specifications. Further, under the terms of
the 1996 Kennedy-Kassebaum health-care law, Americans may be forced to
present this federally approved driver’s license before consulting a
physician for medical treatment.”
The DOT plans call for fingerprinting and the inclusion of biometric
data to be imbedded in the new ID cards.
Barr and Paul are also challenging Clinton’s Executive Order 13083,
issued in May, which overturned an earlier order by the Reagan
administration reaffirming the principles of federalism and the powers
reserved to states and individuals as enunciated in the 10th Amendment.
“This executive order completely undercuts the concept of federalism
that forms the basis for our entire system of government,” said Barr.
“It deeply undermines, if not obliterates, the Tenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. “There will undoubtedly be some who will
argue this order constitutes nothing more than the president’s opinion
and does not carry the force of law. They are wrong.”
Barr is scheduled to hold a news conference today on the steps of the
Georgia State Capitol to announce a legislative effort to block both the
federal ID plan and implementation of the executive order allowing
federal agencies vast new jurisdiction for superseding state
authorities. Representatives from several civil liberties groups and
local activists are also scheduled to participate.
“The United States Congress would be well served to remember one of
the most egregious civil liberties violations in our country’s history,
the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, was based on
authority created by a Roosevelt executive order,” reminded Barr.
“President Clinton has shown a disturbing tendency to take what he wants
by executive order when Congress refuses to give it to him. He has used
executive orders to change the structure of our health care system,
restrict gun transfers, and accomplish countless other pet political
President Clinton, who has issued far more sweeping executive orders
than any of his recent predecessors, announced last week that he planned
a new blitz during the next few weeks in an effort to bypass Congress
with a bold, and questionably constitutional, law-making strategy. His
first unilateral strike in the new campaign came — ironically — on
Independence Day. He announced in his weekly radio address a new federal
regulation requiring warning labels on containers of fruit and vegetable
juices that have not been pasteurized. After that initiative, Clinton
issued executive orders intended to increase the federal government’s
role in health care and the issue of juvenile crime.
While not as sweeping as Executive Order 13083, Clinton’s latest
actions are intended to send a signal to Congress that he does not fancy
himself a lame duck as he approaches the midway point of his second
“He’s ready to work with Congress if they will work with him,” Rahm
Emanuel told the Los Angeles Times. “But if they choose partisanship, he
will choose progress,” said the senior policy adviser to the president.
The power to issue executive orders originally was intended to give
presidents rule-making authority over the executive branch. But some,
like Clinton, have used it instead for sweeping public policy decisions.
While some constitutional scholars question this use, until today,
Congress has not batted an eye over Clinton’s recent actions, including
Executive Order 13083.
That order, issued May 14 and reported in WorldNetDaily last month,
lists nine “exceptions” under which the powers of the states and people
could be abrogated by the federal government in direct conflict with the
10th Amendment. No member of Congress took exception to the order during
the first 30-day comment period during which the House and Senate had
the power to overrule it. It will now take a two-thirds vote, or a
successful court challenge, to override it.
Following the report in WorldNetDaily last month, the White House
removed any reference to Executive Order 13083 from the library’s Web
site. However, though it is no longer listed among the documents
available to the public, it can still be viewed at that site or on
WorldNetDaily’s new archive of government documents.
“Congress must stop this practice by responding aggressively and
quickly every time a President abuses his power to operate the executive
branch,” says Barr. “Blocking this unconstitutional order on federalism
is the best place to start. In fact, it’s an essential starting point.”