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Liberal Prof: ‘We Are in the Midst of a Constitutional Crisis’

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Trey Sanchez 
February 28, 2014

Although Jonathan Turley voted for Obama and agrees with many of his policies, he is alarmed at the rate at which this president has accelerated the use of executive actions to circumvent Congress. Turley warns that the country is in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to testify against the president’s “non-enforcement of federal law.”

Here are excerpts from his written testimony:

I recently testified before this Committee on the history and function of the separation of powers in our system. I also discussed how, in my view, President Obama has repeatedly violated this doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law.

We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. There has been a massive gravitational shift of authority to the Executive Branch that threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system. To be sure, this shift did not begin with President Obama. However, it has accelerated at an alarming rate under this Administration. These changes are occurring in a political environment with seemingly little oxygen for dialogue, let alone compromise.

Of even greater concern is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, as the Executive Branch has assumed such power.

As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action.

We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration…However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do.

There is no license in our system to act, as President Obama has promised, “with or without Congress” … Circumvention is used to avoid any compromise and instead to force victory on the unilateral terms of one branch.

The very fact that we are having this hearing captures how far we have drifted from our original constitutional origins.

Despite Turley’s abhorrence of Obama’s abuse of power, he does not consider the president a dictator nor does he believe these are impeachable offenses:

To be clear, I do not view President Obama as a dictator, but I do view him as a danger in his aggregation of executive power. It is not his motives but his means that I question.

I do not believe that President Obama has committed impeachable offenses in these areas even though I believe that he has knowingly and repeatedly violated the Constitution.

In conclusion, Turley states:

We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority. No one in our system can “go it alone” – not Congress, not the courts, and not the President. We are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers—for better or worse. We may deadlock or even despise each other. The Framers clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period. Whatever problems we are facing today in politics, they are problems of our own making. They should not be used to take from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years.

The Washington Free Beacon provides video of the hearing:

This article was posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 at 4:36 am

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