A noted liberal Georgetown University law professor who represented members of Congress in a lawsuit over the Libyan war, represented workers at the secret Area 51 military base and served as counsel on national security cases says Barack Obama is a danger to the U.S. Constitution.
The comments from Jonathan Turley came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked him: “Professor Turley, the Constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act[s] of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”
Turley replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power.”
Turley explained that the “Newtonian orbit that the three branches exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration.”
“There is two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress,” he said. “One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction.”
Turley was appointed in 1998 to the prestigious Shapiro Chair for Public Interest at Georgetown. He has handled a wide range of precedent-setting and headline-making cases, including the successful defense of Petty Officer Daniel King, who faced the death penalty for alleged spying for Russia.
Turley also has served as the legal expert in the review of polygamy laws in the British Columbia Supreme Court. He’s been a consultant on homeland security, and his articles appear regularly in national publications such as the New York Times and USA Today.
WND reported that it was at the same hearing that Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute, said there is “one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places of the government.”
“Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it,” he said.
“That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate. If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws then they will conclude that neither are they.”
Cannon said it is “very dangerous” for the president to “wantonly ignore the laws, to try to impose obligations upon people that the legislature did not approve.”
Several members of Congress also contributed their opinions in an interview with talk-show host Sean Hannity.
Months earlier, WND reported on the opinions of several other leading legal experts on the issue of impeachment, based on Obama’s extra-constitutional activity.
Those expressing their thoughts included Bruce Fein, the legal scholar who is best known for having drafted articles of impeachment against former President Bill Clinton for perjury after he lied under oath about having sexual relations with an intern. Fein also drafted articles of impeachment against former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2011, he drew up formal articles of impeachment against President Obama for his use of military action against Libya without congressional authorization.
WND also spoke to Herbert Titus, counsel to the law firm William J. Olson, who previously taught constitutional law, common law and other subjects for 30 years at five different American Bar Association-approved law schools. From 1986 to 1993, he was the founding dean of the College of Law and Government at Regent University. And before that, he was a trial attorney and special assistant U.S. attorney with the Department of Justice.
Louis Fisher, scholar in residence at the Constitution Project, also weighed in. Previously he worked for four decades at the Library of Congress as senior specialist in separation of powers and specialist in constitutional law. During his service with CRS, he was research director of the House Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, writing major sections of the final report. Fisher is author of dozens of books specifically on constitutional law.
The experts all agreed that on one point or another, the Constitution might not bend far enough to permit Obama’s actions.
They addressed the issue of Obama’s “hit list,”the people he has ordered killed by drone attacks on the premise they are terrorists.
Said Fein: “Some people argue, ‘Well, he’s only killing terrorists.’ Oh really? How do you know? There’s no accountability. Was Mr. al-Alwaki’s son, a 16-year-old teenager having dinner, a terrorist? So whenever the president says someone’s a terrorist, are they convicted? If the president says conservatives are terrorists, is he going to kill them?”
Titus told WND: “It’s quite remarkable that Congress has basically abandoned this issue to the president, primarily by not addressing the issue in the National Defense Authorization Act not only in 2012 but also in 2013, where it basically gives the president carte blanche to detain any person that he suspects to be guilty of aiding people involved in terrorism. The fact that Congress won’t take a stand on that indicates that it wouldn’t intervene in the president’s use of drones to assassinate people he suspects are actively engaged in acts of terrorism even inside the United States.”
Titus said that basically, Obama “is claiming the right to be the prosecutor on the grounds that the whole world is a war zone.”
“I think it’s an impeachable offense because he’s neither using the civilian courts nor is he bringing them before our military courts. What the president has done is simply defined the whole world as a battleground.”
On the issue of Obama’s decision to appoint dozens of “czars” to lead government functions without congressional oversight, Fisher said: “That is a big deal. A lot of people say, ‘Well, that’s been going on a long time.’ In our form of government, citizens vote for representatives, and representatives pass laws. You have people heading departments, and they’re confirmed. There’s an understanding that we will call you up whenever we need to. So there’s accountability through that process.”
Fisher noted Congress passed legislation saying there would be no funds for three czars, and they were named in the bill.
“Obama signed it into the law, but in the signing statement, he said that’s unconstitutional because he has the ‘prerogative’ to get the advice he needs to implement statutes. Well, c’mon Obama. You don’t have a prerogative to bring into the White House anybody you want at any salary. It’s all done by law. It goes back to 1978 where Congress passed legislation saying you have this number of people and these are their salaries and Congress can increase or decrease that at any time,” Fisher said.
“I think Obama had no idea what he was doing when he was using the word ‘prerogative.’ He can get all the advice he wants in the private sector, but Congress decides how many aides the president will have and what salaries they get.”